The Non Baptism Day

cohen-sargentA high pitched squeal of laughter pierces the otherwise reverent Sacrament Meeting as my son, Cohen, races at full speed towards the stand.  My husband’s feet are heavy and loud as he sprints after him.  Besides a few suppressed smiles, barely anyone reacts; maybe they don’t even notice anymore as this is a normal occurrence several times each and every week.

Cohen has autism.  He has very limited verbal skills and practically zero impulse control.  Yet there is a joy that resonates off of him.  So while he is creating mischief and messes, you can’t help but smile at him.  His body may be eight years old, but his mind is closer to that of a toddler.

During the months before his 8th birthday, my husband and I began to discuss something we never thought we would question.  Should we baptize our son? We were both returned missionaries, married in the temple, and faithful church members.  Our oldest son had been baptized.  It seemed unnatural for us to not baptize Cohen.

However, as the date drew closer and the more we prayed, we knew it wasn’t the right choice for him.  We made our decision based on two things.  First, with his limited communication, he could not tell us if it was something he wanted.  He could not express his testimony of Jesus Christ or of the restored gospel. And … there was no way of knowing what, if anything, he understood of the promises he would be making.

Second, while Cohen may have physically reached the age of accountability, it states in Moroni 8:11

“And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins.“

In order to commit a sin, one needs to be able to recognize right from wrong. Cohen was not yet able to do that.

So we prayed and we consulted with our Bishop who agreed that it was not the right time.  Perhaps someday in the future, but for now Cohen did not need to be baptized.  I felt at total peace with our decision.  I knew the Lord had answered our question and we were doing what was right for our son.

I felt peace . . . and then I mourned.

I mourned for the missed pictures of all our family and friends gathered around Cohen in a white jumpsuit.  I mourned for the excitement of seeing him in a new suit, carrying his first set of scriptures.  I mourned for seeing him receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  I mourned for seeing him called to the stand to be recognized as the newest member of the Ward.  Mostly I mourned for one more day added onto the already long list of days and things that Cohen misses out on because of his autism.

I understood that while these things I mourned for were temporal, in the spiritual sense he was doing exactly what Heavenly Father wanted of him. However, that didn’t make the pain any less.  I mourned in silence, not knowing who I could turn to since we were in uncharted territory.  We didn’t know anyone who had gone through a similar situation.

Then, one day a few weeks before his 8th birthday, Heavenly Father proved that he knew the desires of my heart.  Within days of each other, my mom and the ward’s Primary President approached me with ideas on how to still give Cohen a special day and to still be able to celebrate him.  Plans were made.  A new suit was purchased.

On the first Fast Sunday after his 8th birthday, friends and family attended church with us.  During Sacrament Meeting, the Bishop asked that Cohen come up to the stand.  He giggled the entire way up, finding joy in being allowed up there withoucohen-sargent2t the usual sprint.  As Cohen stood next to him on the stand, the Bishop explained that it had been decided that Cohen did not need to be baptized at this time … that he was unblemished and perfect in the sight of God.  He then talked briefly about what a joy it is to have Cohen in the ward and expressed the love he had for him.

This meant the world to me.  We were watching the Atonement in action.  Here we had a judge in Israel declaring a person unblemished and not in need of baptism. My son!  It was quite humbling to think about.

During sharing time, the Primary President also asked Cohen to come to the front.  He stood up there beaming with his big brother’s arm around him.  They sang two of his favorite primary songs and told him they loved him.

After church, friends and family gathered in our home.  We held a short program designed to match the one used at baptisms.  We started with a prayer and then my husband and I both talked about Cohen.  We shared our hopes for him as well as our love for him.  Then, my husband gave him a special Father’s Blessing. The Spirit during that blessing was very strong.  The Bishop spoke and shared a scripture and then we ended with a prayer.  It was a short program, but it meant everything to me.

This experience taught me a profound lesson about God’s love for all of his children and proved to me how he works through others to show that love.  I am so grateful that my family and my Ward followed promptings that I am sure were from the Spirit.  The day was exactly what I wanted for him.  It celebrated Cohen for being him and it gave him a special day.  Perhaps one day in the future, Cohen will progress enough to where he will be able to share his testimony of the Gospel and express his own desire to be baptized.

For now, however, when I come upon those days when it seems as though the world might overlook him, I will know that he is always remembered in the eyes of the Lord.

72 Responses to “The Non Baptism Day”

  1. Valerie Johnson

    Sarah, What a beautiful experience; it brought me to tears as I read and felt the tender mercies that you had in response to your prayers and desires. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Sarah Sargent Sarah Sargent

      Thank you Valerie!!!

      Reply
      • Dennise Morris

        What a very touching story. You all understand the love the Lord has for his children & what the Atonement means. With the Plan of Salvation, we will be able to baptize and have temple work done in the future if it hasn’t been completed here on earth. Soooo grateful to the gospel & its teachings.

        Reply
    • Ron

      It’s my understanding that all children before 8 should be interviewed by the bishop. If it’s determined they’re not accountable, they’re not be to be baptized. At that time, their records will be sent to Church Headquarters and written as not accountable. That’s what happened to our son.

      Reply
    • JoAnnJarboe

      Our son Alex is 24 and still not accountable for his age and development and to know I have as our child, a special one of Heavenly Father’s special spirits has helped us so many times with understanding. I think it is a beautiful gift what was done for your son.

      Reply
  2. Matt

    My son with autism just turned 7 this summer. His situation sounds very similar to Cohen’s. The decision to baptize him has been weighing heavily on our mind, and we have been seeking advice from family and friends. This article as given us a lot to consider. I appreciate having faithful families willing to share their experiences. Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Sarah Sargent Sarah Sargent

      This is exactly why I wrote this article. I wanted to be able to help those on this same path. Good luck to you and your family in finding what is right for you!

      Reply
  3. Cindy Price

    That was incredibly beautiful and touching. I love what you and your ward did for Cohen. It is just PERFECT!!

    Reply
  4. cathy

    Beautiful story. Best of everything to your family.

    Reply
  5. Roberta Bono

    Wow, what a beautiful life

    Reply
  6. Julie

    This puts me in mind of the time, before food allergies were widely recognized, our ward graciously used rice flour bread for the sacrament. There have been other instances over the years that I’ve had occasion to “mourn” for missed cultural activities or milestones within the church, but when I’m brave enough to share my sorrows, most of the time the members have risen to the circumstances with creative solutions or the hug I needed.

    Reply
  7. Jeralyn Skinner

    These are the same feelings I had when I made the same decision for my daughter. ❤️

    Reply
  8. Autism mom

    What a sweet and wonderful story. It brought me joy. My son is 8 and is in the same situation. How wonderful the ward recognized this young lad and loved him.

    Reply
  9. Karen gust aversion

    Thank you so much! I had so many tears. I am raising my granddaughter who is 15 physically and 3 mentally. I have felt like she has missed out of the special day of being baptized. My granddaughter is everything to me. I feel that she misses out on so much. I also have my grandson that I am raising; he is so sweet to her. He also misses out on so much, because we cannot do things other kids get to do, because sister has melt downs when around crowds of people. I kind of think this is our trial, and that we can be better people for our sacrifices that we make. Love these special kids. Thank you for sharing your story. I love it when parents of these special kids can help each other. And I know how special these kids are to us and Heavenly Father, and he knows our struggles.

    Reply
  10. Linda Earl

    Sarah, your experience was so beautifully written. It touched my heart, and brought tears to my eyes.

    Reply
    • Sarah Sargent Sarah Sargent

      Thank you Linda!

      Reply
  11. Ginger

    What a beautiful blessing for your family. You are in a very supportive Ward to work with you in making special memories for your son. Reading this brought tears…happy tears!

    Reply
  12. Jennie

    Love this! Our journeys are almost identical, but you’ve come up with a beautiful way to mark the occasion. I relate to that same confirmation and mourning. Thank you for sharing so that I don’t feel so alone. ❤

    Reply
  13. Donna

    As the mother of a profoundly autistic son, I rejoice with you that you could have this special day. I remember getting some severe criticism when we knew our son had no need of baptism. I am thankful that Autism is much more understood these days. The trials can be severe, but the blessings are Heavenly.

    Reply
  14. Joyce Lloyd

    Some of these sweet spirits will welcome us home on the other side. If someone isn’t broken, don’t try to fix them.

    Reply
  15. Mari Fritz

    What a beautiful story. God bless all of you for your strength and testimony. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  16. Dave

    Thank you for sharing this. We are very touched by your story and have shared the same questions and decisions for our son Michael. He is almost 17 and is non-verbal and autistic as well. He loves church and primary songs. You are not alone. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  17. Loretta

    I love this and wish I would have thought of this years ago. I have seven children, four of whom are disabled and weren’t baptized until later in life. I recently realized that I was called to be their mother and had been prepared in many ways for that calling. Know that there are many who share your pain and joy in this calling and that if you need a shoulder to cry on or a hand to wave a flag of joy, just ask. I know I’ll be there for you!

    Reply
  18. Mandy

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It really hit home for me. I have a son who is almost 10, who is also Autistic, and it was decided that he did not need baptism when he was getting ready to turn 8. It was a decision that was very hard for me, partially because before that, we would have never dreamed of not baptizing one of our 6 children, but also because there are so many things that he does different from other kids his age, and experiences he “misses out” on. But, him not getting baptized was by far the hardest thing ever to swallow for me. But ultimately, we decided that our feelings of sorrow were really more about us, and not him. He doesn’t feel like he missed out on something. He’s a very pure, and happy little boy, who I truly feel was one of our Heavenly Father’s most valiant spirits, and didn’t need to be tested as much as most of us in this life. It’s such a humbling experience raising one of these sweet spirits, and knowing that our Father in Heaven entrusted us with his care, and had so much faith in us. I wish your family all the best in your own journey.

    Reply
  19. Lauri

    Thank you. I am not a mother, but I am a Primary President. I appreciate this perspective as it makes me wonder who in our large ward needs something other than the usual path. I will definitely be more observant of individual needs now that I’ve read this.

    Reply
    • Beverly

      This is an interesting story. May I share my own. My daughter Debbra was mentally handicapped and we took her many years ago to be sealed to her father and I in the Mesa Arizona Temple and we were instructed that this would be all she needed in her life. Not thinking anything more about it, I found out that now she should have her endowments. She passed away in 1999. What a wonderful thing; I am going to the Palmyra Temple to do her endowments, yes her mother.

      Reply
  20. Richard Miller

    Our son is 19 but mentally about 2 and never been baptized. However, we have decided to baptize him the next couple weeks. Not because he “needs” to be baptized but for the opportunity to allow him to pass the sacrament and collect fast offerings. Also, we feel believe it will be a great opportunity for the YM to help him pass the sacrament.

    Reply
  21. Jim Barnett

    Sister Sarah,

    Let me premise this small part of my testimony by saying I am a 34 year old Autistic Adult.

    I was 11 when I joined the church, and it was the right time for me. By chance it was days before turning 12 and becoming a Deacon. I mention this because I feel that in time your beautiful son will not only be baptized and given the gift of the Holy Ghost, but will also have the opportunity and the privileges of joining the Order of the Aaronic Priesthood. I also feel it only begins there.

    I have a 16 year old Laurel who has become the personal confidant and dear friend of our YW President. I am sealed in the Temple to my beloved for time and eternity. I serve faithfully as an Elder’s Quorum Secretary and this is the fourth President in my life that I have had that privilege of serving. He’s also become a dear friend.

    I feel you made the best possible choice and the way your Ward leadership made it such a special event for him was by far the most beautiful way it could be done.

    As one of my favorite hymns states, May God be with you until we meet again.

    Best of wishes and love,

    Jim Barnett

    Reply
    • Sarah Sargent Sarah Sargent

      Thank you for your story Jim! I have high hopes that one day Cohen will be ready to be baptized so he can further progress as well!

      Reply
  22. Kimberley

    If only others could have similar experiences. I grew up with a twin sister who is special needs and know a few other people who are special needs who would have been so blessed to have this kind of situation. I have heard that the church has a program for people in this kind of situation geared more towards teachers learning to understand…but I have yet to see any of it in action.

    Reply
  23. Jill Smith

    Loved this story! We just had an autistic boy in our ward get baptized and he is about 20. He is afraid of water but finally decided to “join the team” and get baptized! Love these sweet kids!!

    Reply
  24. Steve

    How wonderful for your son and your entire family, and for the ward, to see that our Father in Heaven knows and loves each one of us personally and perfectly, and out of all of the millions of His children, takes the time to give each of us exactly what we need as we turn to Him.

    Reply
  25. Central Texan

    Autism can vary widely, as can other disabilities. I have a niece that has Down Syndrome. She ASKED to be baptized and has also served as a church service missionary although in the grand scheme of things she need not have done it.

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  26. Cheryl Blinston

    Thank you for your story! Our daughter has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and some major anxiety and wasn’t ready for her baptism 2 years ago. We waited and knew she would let us know when she was ready. A year later her younger sister was baptized and she decided she was ready! At the baptism. The bishop was prepared (we knew it might be a possibility) and had already spoken with her. So we dressed her in white and she was baptized as well. It was a sweet day. I am grateful we were sensitive enough to allow her to choose. It made her special day so much more meaningful to her.

    Reply
  27. Fiona ivey

    My daughter is 21 and has pathological demand avoidance, associated with autism. We decided baptism was not right for her as she’s not accountable. She asks sometimes, but doesn’t want to learn why. I truly understand the mourning. It’s hard parenting asd, but truly a privilege that many will never understand. God bless you.

    Reply
  28. Gary

    I usually do not comment on articles, but this one brought me to tears. I have a daughter who was slow to develop, but now is a wonderful young mother herself with a son with similar developmental issues. We don’t think it is downs syndrome but something similar related to chromosomes. He is such a sweet little boy. Unfortunately, my daughter is not active in the church and probably won’t face the dilemma that you did, but I was so touched by what you wrote that I will forward it to my daughter.

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  29. Laurie

    I certainly respect and understand your point of view and don’t doubt you made the right choice. However, you might consider baptism in the future. Baptism is the key to future ordinations and opportunities to serve. My brother-in-law was born with down syndrome. His mental capacities were that of an eight year old. His parents decided to have him baptized, though we all knew it was not necessary for his salvation. What we couldn’t have foreseen at that time was baptism was the gate for him for future opportunities. Because he was baptized, he was able to receive the Priesthood at age 12, to pass the sacrament, and eventually receive his own endowments. We all knew his understanding of those covenants was not complete, but he still had great joy in participating with the other young men and doing legitimate service for the deceased.

    Reply
    • Sarah Sargent Sarah Sargent

      That is wonderful! We discussed this at length with our bishop and feel that sometime in the future Cohen will most likely be ready for baptism. At that time this experience will make his day even sweeter!

      Reply
      • Janet Criner

        My sister’s only son was born with BRR syndrome. My sister didn’t have him baptized at 8, but when he was 13 or so, he expressed a strong desire to be baptized and receive the Priesthood so he could pass the sacrament and do baptisms for the dead at the Temple. The Bishop would not allow him to be baptized, saying it was not necessary. My sister called Church HQ and found out her son would be baptized in the Temple after he died anyway, so she persisted. She was told it wasn’t required, but it was OK because he DESIRED it. His baptism was attended by all of his relatives and many ward members, and the Spirit of the Lord was felt by all. The Love in the room was tangible! My son walked with him to pass the sacrament a few times, until he no longer desired to do it. He LOVES doing baptisms for the dead, and his mother takes him every week to the Temple. The workers there all know him and call him by name, and he feels so welcomed going. He is very content doing this service and looks forward to it every week. Listening to our child’s deires is a good way to know when to press forward.

        Reply
  30. Gerardo Blanco

    We have an 11 y/o that had brain cancer when he was 3. He has some “interface” problems, so we don’t really know how mentally old he is. He was baptized when he was 8. We’ve been wondering if he needs to be ordained a Deacon. This article has given us a great blueprint to follow. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  31. Elizabeth

    We wondered about this for our son, who is now 12. He has autism, but is on the higher functioning side, but with a severe language delay. I knew he couldn’t answer all the questions they have in a typical baptism interview. We knew he had some understanding of right and wrong, but were unsure he was up to the level he needed to be to be baptized. The bishop talked to us when he was 8 1/2 and he felt our son should be baptized. I expressed my concerns and then he asked my son some very simple questions about the savior and if he believed and wanted to be baptized. My son answered very simply and wanted to be. The bishop turned to me and said that was all he really needed. I was surprised, but humbled and touched. My son had a beautiful baptism. And now he’s a deacon and passed the sacrament a few times. 🙂
    I’m grateful for guidance from leaders and the spirit help us understand what is the right choice for each of our children.

    Reply
  32. Bonnie

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I have worked with individuals with disabilities most of my life and have been able to recognize the Spirit in their lives. I have always felt that Heavenly Father loves them very much and that in most cases Baptism is not necessary. Cohen is blessed to have you as parents and such a special Bishop and Ward.

    Reply
  33. Steph George

    Wow. I wept. Perfect. Beautiful. Everyone should follow the example of this family and church leaders. Nya:weh (Oneida for thank you) for sharing this.

    Reply
  34. Rhian

    This is super cool – I’m Autistic myself, and fully capable of decision making etc, but it’s great to see people doing what fits their child’s needs best! Keep doing you!

    Reply
  35. Naomi Hopkins

    Sarah,

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. The hope that you have given to others is amazing and not easily forgotten. I have an 11 year old daughter, but she is not special needs. I know that if I have a child in the future who is, I will remember this article. I want to tell you that you are very courageous and selfless to share your experience with all of us, so Thank You!

    Reply
  36. Guy Wilcox

    Thank you so much for sharing such an amazing beautiful message of the True message of the Atonement.

    Reply
  37. Stephen Fenn

    Our now 42 year old Down Syndrome daughter decided at age 21 that she wanted to be baptized, though she really didn’t need to. That opened the opportunity to do baptisms for the dead at the temple and later to be endowed. She loves to attend the temple with us and participates in all the ordinances there. It’s a sweet experience to watch her serve as proxy for a wife being sealed to her husband. It gives us just a little foretaste of a future day when she will be acting as herself in that special role. Her innocence and purity radiate to all who see her rendering this sacred service.

    Reply
  38. David Allen

    I was a scoutmaster for many many years for a group of over 50 young men whose issues ranged through all the spectrum of emotional, mental and physical. We met every Thursday night and it was like visiting the temple. The spiritual level was awe inspiring and overwhelming at times.
    These young ones are probably spiritual giants and have already earned their place next to our Lord and Savoir and have no need to experience “earthly” challenges that we must do.
    Well done.

    Reply
  39. Cathy Brown

    What a beautiful story. Had to stop several times as I couldn’t read through the tears. We have two autistic kids in our ward. My dear friend has a severely autistic son and I am going to share this website with her. My oldest grandson is a high functioning autistic child. I’m grateful for what he can do, but I mourn for him, too. When I look at him, I see such Godly perfection; yet others just see a boy who acts out, giggles at the wrong time, or acts like he is two years old. He is 10 years old and my third child’s oldest. So thankful for the gospel, the atonement, and the temple. Thank you for sharing; it is a beautiful story.

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  40. Leona Patteson

    I understand Cohen and others in similar circumstances don’t need to baptized for the remission of sins. Neither did Jesus. And yet when pressed by John the Baptist he replied he needed to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness. As baptism is the gateway ordinance to the Celestial Kingdom, won’t this ordinance be required at some point for everyone prior to final judgment?

    Reply
    • Melissa Hanson

      Leona, I promise that for most of these spirits it is not required while they reside in their earthly mortal form. All things will be available to them in time. Our time here is but a blink in our eternity.

      Reply
  41. Rosemary

    When my son had to return home from his mission after only 14 months due to anxiety issues, our ward rallied around him as well. He gave a homecoming talk, there was an open house, and he was treated as any other returned missionary. This made all the difference for him. This is why we have ward families – to mourn with us when we mourn, but also to rejoice with us when we rejoice! What a great ward you have. What a great ward I have. I hope every ward can be like these!

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  42. Lynette

    This touches my heart so much! Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts and may God bless you as you continue forward.

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  43. Danelle Barker

    I have a grandson, Braylen, that is in the same boat as your son. He is non-verbal autistic, but also is completely blind as well. So he is kind of like Helen Keller. I know that he is a VERY special spirit and came here just to received a body so he can go back to our Heavenly Father. Just knowing that he is one of our Heavenly Father’s most special spirits here on Earth makes everything worth having him as part of our family! Your son is in that same boat! Just as us, be thankful every day that he is with you all.

    Reply
  44. Mandy

    I have read this story and everyone’s comments and in doing so have felt the spirit. How lucky these children are to have you all as parents and family. How special are these children and how blessed they are. I have a Brother in similar circumstances. Although having the mind of a five year old and a body of a 12 year old, he had watched everyone around him be baptized. The Bishop said he didn’t need to be baptized and he didn’t, but David kept asking. So with no accountability and understanding, but a desire to follow others, David was baptized. His only response was that now he, too, is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. The only way is to follow the spirit and I am touched at everyone’s strength, courage, faith and love.

    Reply
  45. Linda A

    How beautiful! I was so choked up reading this I could hardly breathe and it was difficult to see through my tears. God has blessed us all, but especially blessed are the children (young and old chronologically) and He will welcome them all home with open arms.

    Reply
  46. Sandi Warby

    Yes, Indeed. You are so right. In Matthew there is a scripture (I cannot remember where it is, now) and it is recorded that the Lord talked about blessing the people, the lame, the halt, the blind, etc. Halt is a word that gave new meaning to us. We have 2 granddaughters in the same family with a form of autism. We understand! You did right in my eyes, and the bishop, bless him, did so right in helping the ward see how special your son is and helping our members know how un-spotted from the world he is and hence, no need for baptism! What a deep spirit of inspiration you all received.

    Reply
  47. Geraldine Brandt

    Although my youngest son is not Autistic, he is ADHD. As his 8th birthday was approaching, I worried about whether or not he was ready. After prayers and a visit to my Bishop, it was decided to wait until he was more mature. He was baptized when he was 10, but has never had the Priesthood conferred. This breaks my heart, but he is an adult now and is more than able to make his own decisions.

    Reply
    • Cheryl Holmes

      Our son is mentally ill and developmentally disabled. He was not baptised until he was ten, and he does not hold the priesthood, either, even though he is now 44. When we went to the Temple to be sealed, our son said “Even if we’re not always together physically, we’ll always be together spiritually”. Do not mourn for your son; he may understand more than you realize, and he will be blessed more than we could hope to understand.

      Reply
  48. Linda B

    Absolutely beautiful! Our youngest son has Autism and when he was approaching 8 – we knew that he was not ready. He watched his siblings be baptized and when he was 12, he began asking to be baptized. Our bishop, who has boys with disabilities as well, said, “Let me interview him.” My husband sat in on the interview (just in case he needed to interpret) and said that he passed valiantly. Each child is different – and our Heavenly Father loves them all!! When our son was about 16, he asked if he could receive the Aaronic Priesthood and pass the sacrament. Again, our Bishop interviewed him – and he was found ready (one of the deacons mentored him as he learned to pass the sacrament). Miracles happen every day! I know our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, loves each one of us – and blesses us!

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  49. Ann

    Dear Sarah and Andy;
    I am so glad that LDS Living picked up your article. It is beautifully written and carries a tremendous spirit with it. I am so grateful that you and Andy, and your family are part of my family. You are each and example, and so very precious to me. All my love; Aunt Annie

    Reply
  50. Don

    What a sweet story! All I could think about from the beginning was how this sweet boy didn’t need baptism. Yet, I forgot how important those milestone events in child’s life mean not only to the individual, but especially for a mother. What a wonderful primary presidency and bishop.

    Reply
  51. Heather

    Sarah, this was absolutely beautiful!! It opened my eyes to alot of the Lords love for each one of his children. It warmed my heart to read his story. I am so glad Cohen has you and Andy as his earthly parents. Keep up the good work. Love and miss you friend.

    Reply
  52. John A Skiba

    After reading many other articles that are followed by dozens of contentious comments, some useful, others not, I find it to be a special blessing to find this article, where the comments are an unadulterated outpouring of love and understanding. I think of Jesus’ declaration: “By this shall men know ye are my disciples: that ye have love one to another.” I love you all!

    Reply
    • RandyLynn Barron

      I hear ya, John. Loved your comment, brother!
      Kindest regards and God Bless,
      RandyLynn

      Reply
  53. RandyLynn Barron

    Hi Sarah,
    Love this well-written story. My son is 28 and has never been baptized. He cannot speak at all and has brain-injury, autism, plus more. As a single mother of 23 years, it took us 9 years to get Vince his Patriarchal Blessing. The blessing told us that my son did not need to be baptized or do anything his mother and others need to do. Further, it said he had done all he needed to do prior to entering his body to prove his faith in and to Jesus and H.F. It said much, much more about who he was and is that I should not share here. I encourage you to get your Cohen’s P.B. as soon as allowed because it may reveal to you who you really have there in your home 😉 The years ahead are going to be challenging especially when dealing with people, educational, and medical systems. Knowing who Cohen truly is (if you haven’t already had a vision or something as wonderful) will strengthen you as a parent. BTW, you may wish to check out IAHP.org. Feel free to contact me at rlynnb@roadrunner.com if you care to. God bless you, Cohen and your family, sweet sister. Y’all are in our prayers. Love, RandyLynn and Vince

    Reply
  54. Jamie Thompson

    I, too, am an autism mom. My son is very high functioning and has great vocabulary and verbal skills, but doesn’t always know how to use them properly. We have been having difficulty with getting him to transition from primary class to sharing time … he runs the halls, hides, escapes out windows, etc. It is so hard to watch the other 9 year olds in his class “acting their agree” when he doesn’t. It is even more difficult when people around us seem judgmental and not understanding of our situation. There are ward members who are so empathetic and kind on the other hand, and they keep us going. I always know that no matter where he escapes to, someone in the ward will spot him and be helpful and understanding. There is definitely a mourning process that occurs for me when I see him not meeting the milestones that others his age do, but I need to be better about always remembering how the Lord sees him. Thank you for your beautiful article. I felt the spirit as I read it as well as the previous comments. I have felt inspiration about how to approach our situation and do more to educate and remind our ward family how they can be helpful. More importantly, I have been reminded about what’s really important for my son. Thank you so much for sharing! May you be blessed as you continue on in your autism journey!

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  55. Randy

    I thank you as well. We have done the same thing with two of our 9 children who have special needs. The dilemma for me is how do they in this innocent state participate in the joy of the temple, even baptisms for the dead, and receive the priesthood or at least participate in the serving of the sacrament? I have asked my church leaders with no answers and asked them to please take it up the chain to General authorities for clarification with no avail? I would love some clarification on why if these children are not accountable and covered under the atonement, they cannot participate in these services of love?

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  56. Lisa Nutt

    I go to a Baptist Church and although baptism is a choice & understanding. My son is 4 (in a few says) ; was thinking about communion. Even though there’s no age requirements one does need to understand why we break bread. This is one of the activities he’ll miss or be delayed doing. I like to say his cognitive level is 2-4, but reality is he’s closer to 2.

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  57. Angelee

    Thank you so much for this article. Our son will be 8 this September, and I didn’t think I would ever struggle with this decision, but here I am. My son has severe autism, is completely non-verbal, has trouble communicating through other methods, and he has several sensory problems that make even Primary difficult to sit through. My husband and I have no objections to baptism, but it is difficult for us to even make it through one family home evening or scripture study without him screaming and yelling. Thank you for your story and we will continue to pray for the right direction to go.

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  58. Lenda

    I just wanted to thank you for this story. What a beautiful way to celebrate. My grandson is one of those very special spirits that we are gifted with who is loved so much. Even though he will be turning 11 this year, he is still mentally a 3 year old. I hope you don’t mind, but I am going to share this with my family and friends, and with my daughter-in-law, the loving mother of this special boy.

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  59. Paula

    How perfect! And how wonderful that you had such a sensitive Bishop and brothers and sisters who could make this day a memorable and beautiful day for your son and your family. Thank you for sharing this personal and inspiring story. I know you touched many people for good and have given them answers to how they can still make a special recognition day for their son/daughter!

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