church, we must be clear that the spiritual (and mental, and emotional) growth of our children is never ultimately in our hands. It is always about the Holy Spirit. There are plenty of principles that we should live out, but we must never substitute those action steps for a trust and hope in the gospel. Above all else, we parents should be continually crying out to our God for His mercy and His power to be manifested in us and our children.
Because of the stress and complications of having a child with special needs, we know that it can become easy to become either passive or reactive to what our children need in order to grow. We must not forget to be proactive and intentional to shepherd our children, to meet their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Even if they do not grow in these areas as fast as other children, all that we do to be their leader (not just care-giver) will pay off dividends. Furthermore, we have seen that for families with multiple children, those that are intentional for the sake of their child with special needs also reap the benefit of learning to be more intentional with their other children as well.
Parents must have realistic and biblical expectations for their children. As we previously noted, all children are called to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1). However, parents must consider each child's level of functioning, not just their chronological age. Parenting children with special needs requires distinguishing between sinful, foolish, or childish behaviors which are common to all children, and behaviors which are the result of the child's disability. Therefore, forms of discipline and training may vary for each child.
At all levels of training, it is important for the parent to communicate using biblical language (such as "image of God," "sin," "obey," etc.), no matter what the child's age or functioning level. Isaiah 55:11 promises that God's word will not return empty, but will produce fruit. Do not hesitate to preach the gospel to your child, as we must preach it to ourselves every day.