Twelve years ago I sat in front of a computer screen staring blankly at the blinking cursor in the search bar, completely unaware that the next few words I was about to type would forever change my world: “how do you know if your child has autism?” In the days, weeks, months, even years to follow I found myself searching for answers, not just answers from medical experts or therapists but also answers from God. At that time, doctors were not routinely screening for autism, and a diagnosis for a baby under the age of two was not nearly as common then, yet here I was with my eighteen-month-old son who cried when I held him and instead would rock himself to sleep despite my desperate attempts to connect with him.

After months of getting nowhere with the Pediatrician, we found ourselves, one cold December morning, pulling into the parking lot of our Pediatrician’s office yet again. Jacob had spiked a fever and had been tugging at his ears and screaming. Our usual doctor was out of the office that day, and when we signed in at the desk, the receptionist asked if we would like to see the Nurse Practitioner instead. With an exasperated sigh and tears welling up in my eyes as I struggled to hold onto my screaming, rocking toddler, I begrudgingly consented.

The visit was non-eventful, much the same as prior appointments with the doctor. The Nurse Practitioner handed me a prescription and updated his file, but just as I prepared to pack up our things to leave she asked me, “do you have any other concerns or needs that you would like to address today?” I stared at her blankly, taken aback by the question. I had never been asked that before. Before I knew what was happening, I began to tell her everything, the signs he showed, the missed milestones, the regression, the behaviors and the research I had done.

That day we walked out of that office with a referral in hand to Cincinnati’s Autism Clinic. That day changed everything, and the impact it had on me was monumental. That day I felt God shift all of the pieces into place and I knew that everything was going to be okay. It was not long after that I switched tracks into nursing to pursue a career in Pediatrics. This fall I plan to start my Nurse Practitioner’s program, and I think about the awesome power of God to not only provide for us but to introduce me to my calling just when I thought I had hit my breaking point.

Each and every day God uses us to reach out to others. He masterfully puts all the pieces and players together in a giant game of chess. Though at times we may feel like a pawn in a game where we have no control over what may come next, we must remember that He has a plan for us, He knows our next move and the endgame that He has in mind. We just have to trust that He knows what He is doing.

Written by Crystal Preston