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Inspirational speakers Susan and Patrick King at Faith Lutheran

FAITH — Inspirational speakers and authors of the book “Optimism for Autism,” Susan and Patrick King of China Grove, will be speaking on “The 4 Gifts of Hope” at the 11 a.m. worship service on Sunday, May 3 at Faith Lutheran Church, 205 S. Main St.

Doctors told King and her husband David that their son Patrick was mentally retarded and might never speak. In fact, Patrick graduated high school with honors and earned academic scholarships to attend college. He became a gifted public speaker and a powerful vocalist. He could not tie his shoes until he was 13 years old, yet he emerged as a swimming champion who received an athletic scholarship to swim in college.

“The 4 Gifts of Hope message emphasizes 4 gifts given by the Lord to light the way through our difficulties. If we use them, they will lift us from discouragement to hope, from tragedy to triumph,” Susan said.

“Patrick and I want people to know that they don’t just have to survive, but they can actually thrive in the midst of life’s challenges,” Susan said. “Ours is a message of finding hope, strength, victory, and purpose in the midst of adversity.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, affecting one out of every 68 children. The incidence of autism has risen 30 percent in the past two years. Every 20 minutes, someone is diagnosed with autism, and every year, 50,000 more people embark on the autism journey. More than 2 million people in the United States have a diagnosis of autism.

“Whenever we speak, Patrick and I aim to increase awareness and understanding of autism as well, since more and more people are being affected by it,” Susan said. “We explain how Patrick experiences his autism and how he has learned to be successful with it.”

According to the CDC website: Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. People with ASDs handle information in their brain differently than other people. ASDs are spectrum disorders. That means ASDs affect each person in different ways, and can range from very mild to severe. People with autistic disorder usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with autistic disorder also have intellectual disability.

Susan and her husband David live in China Grove. They have three daughters, Katie (Morgan), age 27, Emily, age 25, Sarah, age 23, and their son Patrick, age 22. Susan is the 1983 Outstanding Graduate of the Ohio University School of Journalism. She worked in public relations and marketing for 14 years before retiring to have more time available to help her son. As a published author, Bible teacher, and inspirational speaker, Susan strives to help others find hope in the midst of life’s challenges.

The message at Faith Lutheran is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the church at 704-278-2500. You can visit the Kings’ website at susanjaneking.com. “Optimism for Autism” will be available after the May 3 service.

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