Dina Andren – A Child with Autism

Dina Andren’s son William, was diagnosed with Asperger’s and she talks about the struggles of dealing with her health issues and William’s special needs at the same time.

Dina describes the Grace Buddies ministry which connects those with special needs with a volunteer to help them experience all aspects of worship and teaching, encouraging social connections and spiritual growth. Click here for more information.

Hear from William’s “Buddy” Phoebe a student serving to help special needs kids in the Grace Buddies ministry. As well as Grace, Dina’s daughter who also serve in Grace Buddies.


William was diagnosed with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s. He’s verbal, he can look at you in the eyes when he’s talking to you. When you see him you think he’s neurotypical and then you start talking to him for 5 minutes and you’re around him for 10 minutes and a lot of his ticks start coming out.

When we first got the diagnosis for William it was like a punch to the stomach. Especially when dealing with all my other health issues.

I had open heart surgery, and then a stroke 6 weeks later. I also had a TIA which is a mini-stroke. I’ve had two of those; and in the midst of all of these medical issues I am dealing with twin boys that are climbing my walls, huh, and a son whose really, the behavior was far beyond rambunctiousness and violent and aggressive. And I kinda thought my health issues was the cross my family had to bear and I’m so overwhelmed and so emotionally just, like, “really God…this after what we just went through.” Like, it caused me to question a lot it was some really heavy dark stuff we were walking through.

Buddies was like a complete miracle.

[Grace Buddies connects those with special needs with a volunteer to help them experience all aspects of worship and teaching, encouraging social connections and spiritual growth. Click here for more information.]

Everybody from that ministry would just like hug us every week and be like, “we’re praying for William we’re praying for you guys.” It was unbelievable.

Phoebe: My name is Phoebe and I’m a volunteer in Grace and I’m a buddy with William.

Dina: Phoebe is amazing, ha! Like she’s just incredible. She’s just this super star teenager.

Phoebe: I choose to be a volunteer because I like being able to help children feel more included and I like to be able to see the joy on their faces when they’re in class.

Dina: He loves being with Phoebe. For us it’s the peace of mind knowing that the Church has this program for special needs children and families.

Grace (Dina’s Daughter): I wanted to be a buddy because my brother William has autism and I thought that it was important to me to go help somebody else that had special needs. As well because I love kids and I think I have a close connection especially with special needs because I have a brother who has special needs.

Dina: Where you are at on your own campus there are things going on behind the scenes that you, sitting in the seat on a Sunday, might know nothing about until you need to know about it. Like, until you have an autistic child or whatever it is. And then all of a sudden you’re like, “wow, like, I’ve been tithing for years and I’ve been giving to LET’S GO and this is where it’s all going.” And it’s incredible.

About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is the Marketing & Communications Director at Grace Community Church. His passion is to use marketing and digital technology to reach people for Jesus. Tyler got his start as a Youth Pastor in 2010 before transitioning to web design, content marketing & digital marketing. He worked for Word of Life Fellowship for the 3 years before joining Grace 2 years ago to lead the marketing efforts. He is married to Michelle (the Grace Kids Jr director at Washingtonville) and has three amazing kids, Miles, Cooper, and Thea.

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