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Coulson shares autistic journey

Emily Colson shared her story of learning to cope with everyday challenges of raising an autistic child.

Monday night, members of the community celebrated Sav-A-Life’s 20 years of service and welcomed as its guest speaker, Emily Colson, author, artist and mother of an autistic son, 20-year-old Max.

Colson detailed her journey from the day she realized her son Max wasn’t like other children to learning how to cope with everyday challenges like going to the grocery store, to church and dealing with an autistic teenage son.

It was that journey that led to her first book, “Dancing with Max.”

“This is not a book about how God healed my son,” Colson said. “None of this story is easy or happily ever after that says my autistic son was miraculously healed. Max doesn’t think like we do, but his actions reflect deep spiritual truths.

“This book is about how I realized how much Max can teach us about ourselves,” she said.

“The hardest thing about being the parent of an autistic child is never knowing what tomorrow will bring,” Colson said. “It came to the point that I had to ask myself, ‘How would I live if this was my last day alive?

“What I saw was how God shined through my son, and I watched how he changed the world around him,” she said. “Max knows the joy of life. What I found is that one life is profound.

“It’s the power of one life,” she said. “Should (Max’s) life be less because he’s severely disabled? I don’t think so. Max’s disability does not so much define who he is, but reveals who we are.”

Colson told of how Max, then 13, came to be baptized.

“Of all the things in this world that we can’t give Max, he can give himself to Christ,” she said. “It was phenomenal.”

Colson commended the crowd, which filled the entirety of the Kiwanis Community Center, for believing in the message of “every life is important.”

“I’m thrilled to see a room filled with people who believe in life,” she said. “It’s not only about what Sav-A-Life is doing. The issue is bigger than that than life in the womb. It’s about when someone decides this life is less.

“Life is not all clean and neat,” she said. “Life is messy and wonderful because God works through our weaknesses.”

Dinner was served by members of the Andalusia High School peer helpers group, the Opp High School Ambassadors and Crossover Ministries class. Entertainment was provided by the Southside Baptist Church choir.

Colson is also the daughter of high-profile evangelical Christian leader Chuck Colson, who contributes candid material about his family to the book.