Autism has become incredibly common over the years and has answered many questions pertaining to childhood developmental issues. Studies have proven the connection between children and their behavior which has redirected our focus on issues that were once ignored. Many parents once suffered due to lack of attention on this issue and were forced to give up their "normal" lifestyle to tend to their "abnormal" child. Raising a family, juggling a career and working on your marriage are daily struggles an average family deals with, so what happens when you're focusing your energy on a child diagnosed with autism? Now in 2013, we pride ourselves on new technology and advancements that have aided this specific topic and revolutionized the undertaking of living with autism.
As we meet the Hernandez family, keep in mind that their battle to survive was simply the beginning of their journey and proves anyone can conquer life's hardships. Autism does not define this home, their faith does. Social media has spiraled into another world and helps connect strangers without a formal introduction. I met Maglys Hernandez who is a mom to three children and according to her Instagram profile. She is "Loving Life! Madly in LOVE with the hubby & has 3 amazing kids! We serve a Mighty God-Ephesians 3:20."
To a stranger you would never know the life she lived and how she once questioned the possibility of a family. After an almost three-hour phone conversation, I was stunned to learn of her battle with faith and to discover her life as a mom with an autistic son. Julian is 13 years old and was clinically diagnosed with autism at the age of three. He has two siblings who love and support his needs but understanding him shows signs of pain considering Julian cannot express himself like his brother and sister. His older sister, Jeselys known as Jessie, lives with her own struggles and proves to be a miracle on her own. Born only 22 weeks old, Jessie and her twin were born six days apart. Sadly this dynamic dual were split by his passing five days later when he returned into the heavens to support their original sibling who past weeks earlier. As the only triplet to survive birth, weighing a mere one pound, defeating a life doctors diagnosed would be full of darkness, undergoing extensive eye surgery and a mild case of cerebral palsy -- all the while meaning nothing to Jessie except she is a child of God and can overcome anything. This 17-year-old was nicknamed "self-esteem in a bottle" by her teachers and is praised by her peers as she beams positive energy and reinforces bonds with friends and family. Joshua is an average 7-year-old and is hungry for a big brother relationship with Julian but understands that this may never happen. As a family of five, common issues are clear such as finances and priorities but they don't dwell on the obstacles rather focus on the journey.
This particular family has been united and presented with a long line of obstacles to overcome but their loyalty to God has always been the bottom line. Recently the History Channel released a miniseries for the public to revisit the actions of our founding fathers. Not those of our political foundation, but rather those told in the scriptures of the Bible. We learn of those who were loyal to their faith and followed the path questionable by many. Why would Abraham have to sacrifice a son? What would that prove? What kind of Holy Father would put so many complications in our way if he loved us? The Bible has countless stories of pain, hurt and loss but the underline lesson of keeping your faith lives in every triumph. Losing their business after September 11th, Jesus continues to struggle landing a job to support his family. Over qualified for most positions now became an issue when the economy started shutting their doors on his face but as a good husband and provider he marched on. Presented with a job that he had no experience in was the true test to his ability.
Maglys now forced to become a stay at home mom to help raise their children tells me as his wife she "honors & supports her husband" and stays close to him as he starts on a spiritual journey. This new job offer presents itself with a large amount of money and is accepted by Jesus. Self-educating himself in web design pays off when their local church is pleased with the outcome of his work. This is the first step in proving to himself that anything can be done. Now back on the path to success he is hired as a website designer by many but is hungry to serve his God. Shortly after expressing this to his wife, he receives a call from the same church who originally hired him... now for a job he is not familiar with. They need a minister for the children and feel he is capable to fulfill this position. He accepts. This is where the Hernandez family begins their story.
Through life we all follow a path, their path was filled with the loss of their home, cars, their family business, their twin babies and more but through it all they conquered it as a family. "I don't preach religion, I preach a relationship with God," explains Maglys when asked how her life changed with Jesus's new position. "We can't blame God. He doesn't give you sickness. He allows it in your life because it's human nature." We talk more about Julian and how she would like to redecorate his room to fit his needs. Watching movies is his outlet and allows him to use his imagination. She feels that a trip to Disney World would benefit them as a family. Thinking back ten years ago vacationing with an autistic child was impossible. Today this would open the gateway to a wonderland and stimulate excitement in this young man. A trip to Disney would create impressionable memories for his siblings and parents. Although finances do not allow this family the luxury of booking such a vacation, the Hernandez family stays positive. Julian may be defined as a child with special needs, he may not be able to communicate or make decisions on his own, but he is familiar with happiness and his smiles are genuine. There is no hidden message behind this child's laughter, his ability to feel emotions are real and autism cannot taint what is already perfect. To this family autism is normal compared to what they lost, "He is not my autistic son, rather my son with autism." This is simply stated by this mom of three & devoted wife while keeping her faith as a priority in her heart.
Read more about the Hernandez family