How Author and Autism Advocate, Karla Akins, Uses Words as Weapons for Good
Karla Akins and I “met” online through our mutual agent and friend, Linda Glaz, of the Hartline Agency. Then I met her in person a few years ago at an ACFW conference and have counted her as a friend ever since. We have shared prayer requests, heartaches, and good news through emails. She is a prayer warrior with an inspiring faith in God and has been an encouragement to me.
When reading the first chapter of The Pastor’s Wife Wore Biker’s Boots I was hooked and appreciated her realistic characters and down-to-earth writing style. While I haven’t yet read A Pair of Miracles, I’m guessing it’s every bit as engaging.
I’m so pleased to have multi-published author Karla Akins on my blog this week. Be inspired by her story.
Welcome, Karla! Please tell us about your writing journey. How did it start?
I was writing poems and essays in fifth grade, possibly earlier than that. But I remember fifth grade for sure because that’s the year my teacher allowed me to put my poems in booklet form, and she entered me in an essay contest. I placed 2nd in the county. I also entered writing contests on the radio and won a tie for my Dad once. My very first published piece was when I was 16 and won a writing contest in a Sunday School take home paper. Writing is the thing that’s never left me as far as a passion. I am a trained musician, but not even making music makes me feel as alive as writing does.
You’ve written both inspirational fiction and non-fiction, on historical topics, before that. A Pair of Miracles is a departure from that and a deeply personal story for you. What made you decide to write this book?
Honestly, this book was all God’s idea. I was getting ready to attend a smallish writing conference that allowed us to display one-sheets for people to look at. I felt the Lord leading me to make one for a book on autism. Since my twins have autism, I decided to make it a book about the things that worked for them. An editor saw the one sheet and invited me to write a proposal. After a lot of detours, here we are!
How has God guided you through this process?
Before I write anything, I spend time asking the Lord for guidance. I can honestly read this book now and I don’t remember writing some of it. This book was written during a difficult spring and summer and I depended on the Lord completely for guidance, wisdom, and inspiration. The words flowed easily but only because of His inspiration, honestly. I was completely dependent on him for inspiration.
Do you have any scriptures you’d like to share that have inspired you?
I love this scripture about my writing career: “Blessed be the Lord, my rock,
who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle”(Psalm 144:1).
I write using my hands – both of them – as I type. All Christians are in a war against evil and one of the weapons we use are words that the Lord inspires us to use. As a Christian writer, I’m not writing only to entertain, but also to inform, encourage, and inspire others to turn to our good and loving Father for all our sustenance and help. I can’t do this by myself. It’s “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). So I can’t take credit for being created by Him to write. “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).
What would you like to tell us about your latest release, A Pair of Miracles?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in 68 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although a growing number of parents face similar circumstances, many still feel isolated and alone. A Pair of Miracles offers encouragement and reassurance.
The book shares how my husband and I dealt with the diagnosis of autism for our adopted sons. Twenty years ago, autism was not as prevalent as it is today, and I knew nothing about it. I had never grown up around someone with autism, and I didn’t even know what it “looked” like.
When I voiced my hopes to doctors about the boys learning to read and function independently, doctors warned me that those expectations would never be met. I chose to ignore the naysayers set out to prove all things are possible through God.
I hope families and caregivers will be encouraged by reading about our journey and might gain a few ideas on how to work with their child. I also hope they will feel like they’re not alone in the struggle. I know I like to read books that validate what I’m feeling. It’s always good to know you’re not the only one in the trenches, fighting the good fight of day-to-day survival with autism.
In addition to the inspiration, lessons learned, and advice for becoming your child’s best advocate in all aspects of life given throughout the book, the book includes appendices, offering: therapy and teaching strategies, listings of autism organizations and websites, skills checklists, and suggestions for additional reading resources and online apps.
My twins are now able to function independently in many ways, contrary to doctors’ predictions. They help their dad install pools, do carpentry work and serve in the church as ushers, sound engineers, and children’s ministry workers. However, autism is different in every person. It’s a spectrum disorder, which means people fall on a wide spectrum. Remember all children are unique, no matter what their ability or diagnosis, and a diagnosis is not who they are. They are children and people first. They just happen to have a label.
My prayer is that parents and caregivers will be validated on their journey with their child. A caregiver or parent spends a great deal of their time advocating for their child and trying to convince others that they are able – not disabled. And I want those advocates to know they are not alone, and they are doing the right thing.
More about Karla:
Karla Akins is the mother of five, including twin sons with autism. She has a bachelor’s in special education from Western Governors University and a doctorate in Christian education from Kingsway Theological Seminary. She has nearly four decades of teaching experience in homeschooling, private school, and public education.
Akins has also served in ministry for more than 30 years and is co-minister at Christian Fellowship Church in North Manchester, Indiana, with her husband, Eddie. She is also a popular speaker at conferences and retreats.
In addition to A Pair of Miracles: A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting, Akins is the author of four other books. Her first novel, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots, features a homeschool mom and a child with autism.
Akins enjoys riding her motorcycle, sipping chai lattes and snuggling with her three dogs and two cats.
Karla is also giving away a copy of A Pair of Miracles to one randomly chosen winner. Please leave a comment below by next Monday, July 24th, to qualify.