Many years ago the kids and I walked in a 4th of July parade in our community with the early childhood PTA we belonged to. It was sincerely one of the hottest days of the year and we were all melting by the time it was done. We ended up inviting some of the other members of the PTA who had walked in the parade to come to our house because we had an above ground pool for the kids to cool off. That invitation turned into a 10+ year tradition of getting that group together for 4th of July festivities. Like many of you, this year was different. It is sad to me to see traditions change. But also like you, I hope you are trying to make the best of your situation.
In going through old photos I found this gem. For me at first, it was a gem because all the kids in this picture are in high school or college now (WOW) and best of all, they are still great friends. They have my heart.
Then as I looked closer I realized that I had finally found a picture that could help me describe autism to others. Yes, autism is lack of eye contact and hand flapping. But it is SO much more. It is the difficulty socializing and lack of interest in peers around you, which typically kids desire.
In this photo, the child not facing the group, with his back to the circle, is my son Joshua. You can see he is happy; he always is. However, he doesn’t have that interest in what the rest of the group is doing. Engaging was really hard for him. Where many of us learn this naturally and almost yearn for it, he had to be taught. It’s different than being shy or introverted. It’s comparable to learning to play the piano. He had to practice and be put into situations purposefully so he would learn how to make a friend.
I fully believe that early intervention was the key for Joshua. I believe it so strongly that I want to make sure other children get the same opportunities.