Parenting a Special Needs child over a decade

Pastor Jimmy Bartz discusses his experiences raising a special needs child
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Parenting a Special Needs child over a decade

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How has my experience with an autistic child changed from the day he was diagnosed at 18 months until half way through his 12th year today? Night and day is the experience. I mean there is the devastation that gets wrought with a challenging diagnosis like Autism Spectrum Disorder or Mental Retardation or Pervasive Developmental Disability. Yet over time in the day-to-day practices that we engage as parents of special needs children, we see a side of the world that a lot of the rest of culture doesn't get to see. My family and I regularly interact with an incredibly generous, compassionate constituency of people who have devoted their lives to engaging people who are challenged or disabled or who have special needs. And interacting with those people is the deepest privilege. In my own family experience, my child is 12 ½ years old and non-verbal. But I've seen how a human being can communicate without spoken language. Through touch and pictures and moving emotions. And it's made me such a more open, responsive, compassionate, empathetic person, by having to use my intuition and learn how to cultivate a relationship with someone who I couldn't rely on for the regular, every day tools that most of use to cultivate relationships with.

Pastor Jimmy Bartz discusses his experiences raising a special needs child

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Jimmy Bartz

Priest

Jimmy serves as rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Prior to coming to Jackson, he was the founder and priest at Thad’s, an emergent Episcopal Church in the Santa Monica, California, in the Diocese of Los Angeles. He has also served as the Campus Missioner at the University of Texas in Austin, at All Saints’ in Austin, Texas, and All Saints’ Parish in Beverly Hills, California. He is a graduate the University of Texas at Austin and Virginia Theological Seminary. Presently, he serves as the Chair of the Board of the Episcopal Evangelism Society, and in years past has worked with Red Bull High Performance teaching athletes spiritual disciplines, with Naval Special Warfare working to create systems for character development within special operations teams, and was a speaker at TEDx, Venice Beach.
Married to Cindy and dad to Jas and Jade, the Bartz family loves to spend time outside mountaineering, skiing, fly-fishing, hunting and surfing.  Jimmy is currently writing a book on the spirituality of risk.

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