Hal and I spent Christmas with our daughter, son-in-law and three young grandchildren. It was especially fun to share the holiday with Peter, the youngest at 21 months old.
Those who have read my previous blogs (barclaypress.com) will remember Peter as the baby who last year was diagnosed with blindness and various other potential developmental disorders. It shocked our whole family, and Hal, I and others covenanted to intercede for Peter, asking God for mercy and healing. I’ve had the sense that my prayer assignment for this child will be a long-term commitment involving persistence and faith.
So far it’s been a journey of hope, despair and changing diagnoses. The last word names his condition as ocular albinism, which is better news than earlier diagnoses. He obviously can see something. He recognizes people by sight as well as sound, reaches for objects, and walks around without bumping into walls and furniture. While probably “legally blind,” he sees more than we had been told he would. How much of this is answered prayer, we don’t know. The not-knowing keeps us humble, while the obvious progress encourages us to keep praying.
Peter’s development in other areas, especially language, has been a concern. We were worried that at 19 months he hadn’t begun saying any words or responding to signs—doing things like clapping, waving bye-bye, playing peek-a-boo—baby stuff that normally comes with the territory. That plus some obsessive repetitive behaviors prompted the pediatrician to set up an appointment with a specialist in autism. “We don’t need this, too,” I thought.
Two weeks before the appointment, language kicked in. By the day Kristin took Peter to the doctor, he had a vocabulary of some 20 words and was adding to it daily.
The official diagnosis was “pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise diagnosed” (PDDNOS). This sounds horrendous but basically means he’s too young for a more specific diagnosis. The doctor told us he may have a mild form of autism which he could eventually outgrow. I’ll accept that for now and keep praying.
What delights me is that one of Peter’s first words—and probably the most repeated—is “light.” He is drawn to light. He points to windows and lamps, repeating with enthusiasm, “Light! Light! Light!” I was holding him when I first recognized him say a sentence. We were playing off-and-on with the light switch when Peter pointed to the ceiling lamp and said, “Light on.” Yes.
Maybe I’m silly in finding symbolic significance in this, but, hey!, I’ll take my encouragement in whatever form it presents. That IS what I’m praying for—that all the lights turn on in Peter’s mind. I pray for the gifts of sight and language. I pray that all the developmental tasks proceed in the order God intended. And I pray that Peter’s spirit will always respond to the Light.