November 30, 2011
He sways precariously between two monkey bars, sweat teeming down his face, regarding the ground below with mounting trepidation. My youngest tells me to catch him, but I know he can reach the ground without incident, so I move a bit further away and tell him to let go. He regards me with a look that is either scorn or disbelief, but disengages his fingers anyway, letting gravity take over. Zach makes a soft landing on forgiving tarmac, rolls to his feet, and grins. “I was scared, but I jumped!” he shouts loudly, and a few children turn around to see what the commotion is all about. Then he’s up, running at what seems to his middle-aged mother to be lightening speed, off to the next challenge.
Finally, finally, he’s once again excited about the next challenge.
There was a long period of time after Zach regressed that he became a child we hardly recognized. He was so silent, desired mostly to be left alone, was only willing to engage in the safe and familiar regimen of organizing his Thomas trains. Anything novel suggested by his parents, grandma, or Early Intervention therapists was quickly rejected, often viewed with fear. This fright extended from new foods to books, and even toys, no matter how compelling we thought the latter might be to him. There were days I despaired he’d ever try anything new.
Now, he can’t wait.
This is our first time at this particular playground, and Zach is overjoyed to attempt new experiences. There’s the rope ladder he never would have clambered upon even six months ago, which he mounts with ease. I watch as he heads toward the swings, invoking my presence with a wave of his arm to summon me to a seat that used to scare him, but now makes him want to fly. There are his gradually more assertive attempts at friendship, his name, age, and request to play dropped almost casually in conversation, with rejection from older kids (or girls) not appearing to bother him a bit.
Subtle changes. Huge leaps of progress.
His adventurous air has extended itself to school, where he tells me he’s been trying to help his friends more lately, has even once shared a special toy without being asked (!). Practicing his letters so he can write to Santa is now a staple of his Mommy time, rather than a chore no amount of cajoling with demand/reward seemed able to satisfy. Finally, and perhaps most importantly to me, are his repeated tries to engage with Justin, with less and less facilitation by me and his father. This is happening despite the fact that Zach told me recently that “Justin didn’t want to play with him”, which of course crushed me, even as I tried to rally with a strategy that would render Justin momentarily fascinated by Aromadough.
Justin didn’t buy it. But these brothers are slowly making progress in their relationship to one another, and it’s glorious to see.
I end my musings when I see that Zach has stepped away from the giant slide, and is now contemplating sliding down a contraption that strongly resembles a fireman’s pole. My feet close ground quickly as I tell him he can’t imitate the girl in front of him who is most likely in double digits (and as the words come out of my mouth, I have to laugh at the fact I’m telling my child not to imitate someone). Thankfully he listens, turns, and throws himself back onto green plastic, which will take his newly exploratory soul back to earth, and into my arms.
Which despite his adventures, is exactly where he should be.
November 28, 2011
As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, since 2010 things have been going pretty well chez McCafferty (I had hoped the tide would turn with President Obama’s inauguration, but we had to wait another year). Everyone eats now, and for the most part everyone sleeps through the night as well (except for me). In general, that high-level angst we were enveloped in now seems only in evidence when Zach is not getting what he wants EXACTLY how, and when, he wants it. Fortunately, since I am a veteran teacher, this is a situation I usually feel extremely capable of dealing with on a daily basis.
When handling Zach, the fabulous Tina Fey quote from Prayer for a Daughter, “I will not have that Shit. I will not have it”, often comes to mind.
Even with the impending end of the world (again!), and the fact that scarves are the style and I still can’t figure out how to wear them, we seem to have reached a lovely little détente with autism in this house, an acknowledgment that it still lives and breathes amongst us, but perhaps isn’t the main things we talk about anymore. I believe last Tuesday, for thirty-seven consecutive seconds while I was making dinner, I actually forgot my kids had it.
Then Justin asked me to rearrange his book shelf for the five thousandth time that day, and I remembered.
The truth is, I’ve slowly realized over the past two years that I’m truly enjoying myself and having fun again, which was pretty much my main goal in life for thirty-six years before I became a mother. I’ve had to take some baby steps to return there, fought off a few mild panic attacks after having a good time for more than five minutes, until I realized my progeny were actually happy too. For me at least, it took a while to claw my way out of what Susan Senator so aptly named “siege mode”, a not-so-fun way of life within which the McCaffertys dwelled for a good half decade or so.
Trust me, I am much more pleasant to be around now. Just ask my husband.
Back in what I lovingly refer to as “good times” (or that year-and-a-half in Virginia where I crawled around after my autistic toddler six hours a day trying to get him to sign “ball” because our Early Intervention services sucked), I found myself working side-by-side both with my son, and that famous cycle of grief. I can clearly remember one particularly chill fall day, where I’d spent an hour with Justin building a ball “thingy”, soliciting great signs and extreme enthusiasm from him with ease, a double coup. When we completed our masterpiece Justin went to attach the final ramp to the tippy-top, and when he couldn’t make it click he became immediately distraught. Before I could intervene he simply smashed the whole thing to the ground, looked at me with what I swore was unbridled outrage, and threw himself to the ground in a tantrum I’m certain they could hear at the White House.
Through the caterwauling I recall thinking I’d missed Oprah’s Favorite Things for this. I admit, I was bitter.
I remember, as I tried to scoop up all the tiny plastic pieces I would certainly step on later, that I knew a year into the “therapy wars” that this wasn’t enough for me anymore. It had been twelve months since Justin’s diagnosis, and although he’d actually made a lot of progress in a number of areas, it was clear to me he wouldn’t be one of those kids who “recovered”. I also realized over the course of that year I’d made a mental shift, perhaps out of necessity, or to save my sanity. I was no longer striving to completely eliminate Justin’s layers of autism, banish them from sight.
I simply wanted the kid to find his damn happy place. Was that too much to ask?
So, I returned to that famous grief cycle and struck a bargain with the universe (nothing specific mind you, I like to keep my options open), one I will honestly confess was nothing but a win-win for me, which is how I like things. I made a promise to myself that if my child ever smiled more than he cried I’d move beyond therapy and folding laundry, and actually do something for myself, and the autism community as well. These things included (but are not limited to) writing a book/blog, creating some kind of fundraiser that could easily be schlepped around, and finally, a project me and my mom could implement within the public schools. So far, I’ve accomplished step one (at least five people RAVE about my unpublished “back-story”), and the blog is simply a joy. So, in an effort to keep true to my promise this summer I moved on to step two, and in my “free time”, I wrote an autism play.
Which, in case you weren’t aware, is exactly the next logical step for an ex-French major/housewife with one publishing credit to her name to undertake.
It’s a simple little endeavor, one which requires the actresses just to sit and read a script out loud, because at this point in middle age, I’m pretty certain I’ll never memorize anything again. I’m shooting for putting it on in April during Autism Awareness Month, even if it ends up being in my house (and trust me, that’s a serious possibility). I’ve had the great fortune of finding out last week that POAC, Parents of Autistic Children, has agreed to let me “produce” it for them as a fundraiser. If we can get people other than my mommy to show up to this play (she really liked it!), perhaps we can generate a little revenue for a great organization, and a great cause.
I’ll be writing about this periodically, so for now I’ll be keeping more details under wraps (I know, how will you survive the suspense?), but I look forward to taking you on my journey of securing actresses, begging people to use social media/witchcraft to promote this thing, and finding a venue bigger than my living room. Trust me, I’ll need help with a title (I suck at those), and a great song for us to walk on stage to (thinking “Lady Marmalade” from Moulin Rouge is fun, but perhaps a song about prostitutes might be a wee bit inappropriate). In advance, I am grateful for all the suggestions and support I know you will show me.
But most of all, I’m simply grateful for my sons’ smiles, and for enjoying the absolute luxury of trying to fulfill a bargain.
November 23, 2011
The sound of his sobs cleaves the air, is in sharp contrast to the cries of glee emanating from my youngest as he cavorts around his room post-bath. I run down the hallway to Justin’s room, confused because I just left him smiling ear-to-ear as I wrapped him up in his air and space sleeping bag, luxuriating in the prospect of impending slumber. I quickly cross the threshold and am met with a tearful child, one enmeshed in twisted sheets and fishy throw, at complete odds with the world. His cries intensify as I cross the room to him, and he regards me with what I can honestly say is utter despair. I slide into bed with him to offer what comfort I can, and realize I’ve left the door open as I hear Zach asking “what’s wrong with Justin?”.
Of course, out of habit, in my mind I reply “nothing’s wrong with him, he’s just sad”, but to a four-year-old, that’s not the point.
“I must help him!” my youngest shouts, followed by the soft patter of feet on carpet as he runs down the hall, my husband in hot pursuit. Jeff looks at me and we exchange our “telepathic” glance, the one in which he asks if it’s okay for Zach to be in the room, and I respond that it is. My exuberant pre-schooler scales the sideboards meant to protect Justin from falling, and lands squarely on his big brother’s butt. I see Justin grimace in mild annoyance at first, but soon he permits himself to be enveloped by one of Zach’s mighty hugs. Zach looks at Justin’s face, then turns to me and says “He’s still crying Mommy, I will help”. He shimmies off the bed, still in his birthday suit, and gets the situation under control by performing the only possible solution.
With great gusto, my son performs “La Cucharacha”.
It’s a rousing rendition, complete with air snaps, twirls, and extreme emphasis on the last syllable, just to make sure we know what he’s singing. I glance over at Justin and am rewarded not only by arrested tears, but by the glimmer of a smile he saves only for his little brother. Crisis averted. The night is saved by a four-year-old.
And once again, as I have been so often, particularly in the last few years, I’m just so thankful.
I’m thankful that I married the right guy the first time around. Thankful for the educational world (this community is too big for a village) who solicits the best from both of my boys, and loves them more than a little too. I am thankful for our friends and family who continue to “get” our sometimes crazy lives, and contribute to our happiness as well. I am exceedingly, extravagantly thankful that my boys are developing such a wonderful relationship with each other, that they regard one another as a positive in their lives. I am humbly thankful for an amazing personal opportunity I’ll be sharing with all of you soon. Hell, I’m just thankful I’m beginning to understand the witchcraft workings of my new smart phone.
But I digress.
Last, but not least, I’m so thankful for all of my readers, “old” and new, some of whom have stuck with me and my missives for almost two years now, and have offered me such support, and wisdom along the way. I wish all of you the happiest of Thanksgivings, and much love, laughter and friendship on this day, and always.
November 22, 2011
It’s the holiday season, and along with mistletoe, traffic, and the consumption of far too many carbs, comes the often desperate necessity of keeping my kids entertained. Since the McCafferty family relocated back to New Jersey almost six years ago, we have been fortunate to discover many autism-friendly activities in the area, events that have engaged Justin, my more moderately involved child, as well as Zachary. Given the fact that over the next six weeks my kids will be home almost as much as they’re in school (okay, maybe that’s a SLIGHT exaggeration), I’ve decided to share with all of you “locals” a number of events (and event-related tips) that have kept my kids occupied over the years. I would love to hear how all of you have kept your sanity in tact over the holidays/winter break, and will happily showcase your favorite holiday spot here at AMT. Please feel free to leave suggestions here, or on Facebook, with all the necessary information attached. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and thanks in advance for your contributions!
Just to get you started: (A few of these tips/events have kept me and Jeff from running off to a commune by the middle of the kids’ vacation, I highly recommend checking them out!).
December 4th 2:00-3:00 Songs of the Season
December 11th 2:00-3:00 Scavenger Hunt
December 18th 2:00-3:00 Holiday Crafts
They also run a wonderful train exhibit from 11/20 through New Year’s. Both Zach and Justin still love the trains. The Sunday activities are more Zach’s style.
12/18, 12/19, 12/26, 12/27, 1/2 6:00-9:00 $6 admission
There may be a bit of a wait to get in, so we try to arrive a few minutes before 6:00. There are crafts, and the aquarium is decorated beautifully. More of an activity for Zach.
3) Mall Santa- Wednesday before Thanksgiving
Trust me, nobody is at the mall that day, no lines for Santa! Contact your local mall for Santa’s schedule.
Free pictures with Santa, 12/3 and 12/10, 1:00-4:00
Both kids did well with this, and it’s free!
November 21, 2011
It’s day two of NJEA, the break from school I detest the most all year. My revulsion for the mini-vacation is due in part to the fact that there are no holidays (read “gifts”) to distract me from the necessity of filling four consecutive days with my boys. I also find the conference irritating because everyone who lives in Jersey (or those not vacationing in Disney) will be attempting to kill time in all the museums and playgrounds I proprietarily haunt, and my eldest in particular is not fond of crowds. Last, I thumb my nose at NJEA because it’s in NOVEMBER for God’s sake, and all the good stuff around here is closed.
I’m sure the New Jersey Education Association is distraught by my rejection.
In an effort to fill some of Justin’s ninety-six hours off (but who’s counting), my mom and her partner have kindly offered to help by giving Justin another try at a sleepover. So, after a day of too many computer games and a gratuitous trip to the mall, we’re finally headed out on Route 195 to grandma’s house. This trip will herald our third attempt at having Justin sleep in a bed other than his own. The first try was aborted after the consumption of too much pizza, ending with a late-night return from grandma’s beach house to Justin’s primary residence, where he promptly fell into my arms and then slept for twelve hours straight. Our last unscheduled attempt coincided with Irene, an experience that made me (and every adult in the house) reconsider our positions on taking Valium as a snack food. I admit, as I head west, that this time I’m hoping for better.
If not, at least my mommy will have fed me.
I’m already feeling slightly victorious, because I let him watch me throw his sleeping bag, pillow, and fishy blanket into a large garbage bag, which he knows is a signal for “we’re out of here”. There were no protests, tantrums, or emptying of said garbage bag back onto his bed, so at this moment, things are looking up. He got even more excited when he saw the suitcase, sweetly helped me drag it to the car, a chorus of “eee” accompanying us the entire way. I told him several times we were sleeping at grandma’s and that I’d be with him the entire time, and I swear he understood the plan. There’s a certain grin he saves for my mother, and every time I mentioned her, it was on display.
Justin has always loved his women.
We arrive at my mother’s in record time (as I’ve mentioned there were no school busses to slow us down), and I have Justin help me lug our paraphernalia upstairs. I spread out his sleeping bag on the bed and show him where I’ll (in theory) be sleeping, and he flashes me that bright smile once again. I am certain he understands our agenda.
Whether he complies with it or not is another story entirely.
An hour later Justin engulfs his dinner, prompting me to wonder if I should perhaps be feeding this child more. After consuming his “grandma brownie” he bolts upstairs to bed, cradling the crib toy my mother used to cajole him to sleep when he stayed here as a baby. He is grinning ear-to-ear as he manipulates the dials, giving equal time to “Lullabye” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” respectively. My mom and I bathe and clothe him in his new pajamas, and he eagerly slides into his sleeping bag and bed, permits us to hug him goodnight, then blatantly turns away from us so we’ll leave. I’m already victorious that he hasn’t attempted to drag his linens, suitcase, and mother down the narrow stairways of my mother’s home a hundred times before slumber, but dawn is still eleven hours away, so I temper my triumph.
I’ve learned with this child, a lot can happen in eleven hours.
I sneak up a little bit after ten (which sadly, is past my bedtime these days), and manage to avoid all the creaky floorboards and slide into the daybed without incident. Eventually, exhaustion takes over. The two of us remain in slumber until about 1:30 AM, when I wake to the creepy feeling that somebody is watching me. I open my eyes warily to regard my son standing in the middle of the room just staring at me, and I see a huge smile stretch across his face as he realizes mommy is awake too. I sigh, drag my forty-four-year-old frame to the floor, and begin what I believe will be the first of many attempts to get my boy back to bed.
Damned if he doesn’t snuggle in on the first try.
We’re not entirely home-free the rest of the night, as this scenario is repeated again at 3:30, this time with a gentle push on my shoulder that makes me grateful I’ve been on that blood pressure medication for a while. He returns to bed easily this time too, although his mother has a tougher time returning to unconsciousness. I seem to make it back there just in time for dawn and my son to come calling, which prompts me to shuffle into the big bed with him, and beg him to give mommy just a few more minutes before we head downstairs. Justin relents, even remains still for a quarter hour, enough time for me to remember my name, and return to our world. It’s morning, and except for scaring a few more years off my life a couple of times (perhaps longevity is overrated anyway), Justin made it through the night. Which means Disney, here we (eventually) come.
Next year, I might even like NJEA.
November 18, 2011
This week’s Gratitude Attitude goes out to my mom and Aunt Kate, for helping make “Sleepover Part Three” a resounding success. Disney, here we come!
November 16, 2011
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a proud member of the Brick SEPTA (Special Education PTA), an organization that under Mary Tara Wurmser’s leadership has shown tremendous growth over the past few years. The SEPTA board, including Nicole Barresi, Janet Bixenman, Dina Crepaldi, Vinnie Muti and Sherry Doyle, have worked tirelessly to provide fun events for children with special needs. They have frequently invited expert speakers to come enlighten us on topics ranging from transition planning to understanding Down’s Syndrome, and have also recently added recycling to their list of projects, an effort which remains near and dear to my heart.
Heck, they had me at the chocolate donuts.
The board and members of SEPTA have been making a concerted effort to “go green” by using social media to convey their news, but have recently decided to take things a step further. They are also attempting to raise funds and earn assistive technology (i.e. iPads), with the express hope of donating several to our local EEC (Educational Enrichment Center), the building which houses our town’s pre-school autism programs. I’ve seen firsthand how this technology has opened up worlds for Justin, who didn’t have the opportunity to employ such an elaborate communicative device until he was seven. I can only imagine how access to iPads might enhance the education of a three-year-old.
And knowing the Brick SEPTA board, I’m certain the EEC will soon find out.
The vehicle through which such donations can be made is called the “Funding Factory”, and is an ongoing free fundraiser and recycling/Go Green program. SEPTA can accept ink cartridges, laser cartridges, cell phones, electronics, and laptops, then send them to the Funding Factory. Drop-off is simple- individuals can leave their items in a drop box at the EEC, or if the item is too large for such a container, a pick-up can easily be arranged.
Other organizations can also come on board and raise funds for their own projects by listing SEPTA as the referrer (Group ID # 275622). Companies can sponsor SEPTA as well by donating their cash or points from the program directly to SEPTA. There are no shipping costs, as Funding Factory takes financial responsibility for that issue, and they make sending in the materials very simple. For more information, please see:
Finally, there is one last option for helping out SEPTA this season. The Funding Factory is partners with Maxback, a website which individuals can use to get cash-back for unwanted smartphones, tablets, ipods, and video games. Maxback pays senders directly through Paypal, check, or Amazon gift certificates, but the bonus is, they will match each contribution with a 10% donation to SEPTA. You’ll need to establish a free account on Maxback and designate SEPTA as the recipient (Mary Tara assures me even I could figure out how to do it, it’s that simple). For more information, please check out this link:
Given how much we’re all watching our wallets stay closed these days, these are some easy ways to contribute without emptying a bank account. Thanks in advance for your participation, and hope to see you at our next SEPTA meeting on January 9th!
November 13, 2011
I know, all of you have been waiting with breathless anticipation for my follow-up post to what I might redub “Halloween Part One: Kim Really Likes Her Neighbors”, and here it is. If you read last year’s post Happy Halloqueen (and if by some chance you haven’t, here it is, life’s full of second chances), you’re already aware that I’m somewhat obsessed by the holiday, and prefer to extend the celebration for an entire month. Both kids are doing so well we were able to participate in a lot more events this season, and of course I had camera on hand for each one. The most amazing part about this spooky month came from Justin not only consenting to participate in his Mommy’s crazy schedule each and every time, but truly enjoying every activity in which he participated. My boy really “gets” that Halloween is fabulous.
He is clearly my son.
So here’s our “best of”, which I hope you enjoy. If people had told me on Justin’s second Halloween (the one where he remained surgically attached to me while we canvassed our neighborhood in the hopes I’d score Reeses Peanut Butter cups) that one day my child would think trick-or-treating was fun, I wouldn’t have believed them. Actually, I would have laughed, stolen more of my son’s candy, and then told them I didn’t believe them.
This year luckily, no hollow laughter was involved, just an inappropriate consumption of carbs. And I’m thrilled to share our “season” with you.
(“What’s up dude?”)
(Deciding whether or not witches are real…)
(What’s better than wearing your costume to school?)
(Even Bumblebee needs to rest!)
(“Hey, you guys are going on the hayride too?”)
(Loving Halloween, just like his mommy…)
(Somebody adores a good hayride!)
(That guy from Halloween Wars has nothing on Zach…)
(So many pumpkins, so little time.)
(Giving gluten-free Halloween cookies a shot.)
(The master at work…)
November 11, 2011
This week’s Gratitude Attitude goes out to my local Patch editor, both for linking Autism Mommy-Therapist to the online publication, and for featuring it prominently on the home page. Thanks so much for the opportunity!
November 9, 2011
I adore Halloween. The truth is, like my birthday, the revelry surrounding this holiday endures for an entire month, and if I could, I’d extend it all year (once again, much like my birthday). The love and reverence I feel for All Saints Day extends all the way back to the early days of my childhood. My devotion was ramped up considerably by my voracious reading about ghosts, goblins, and all manner of haunts, usually conducted with a contraband flashlight in my bedroom. It culminated with the excitement of wearing my mother’s homemade costumes in our town’s Halloween parade, the memory of which shames me, as my kids’ spooky-wear always hails from a plastic bag (thank God I scrapbook, otherwise he guilt would consume me). In short, I’m a groupie.
Last year, I even dubbed myself the Halloqueen. I am that serious.
I don’t think it’s possible for me to devote just one blog entry to this fabulous holiday, so I’m going to give you a bit of a preview here (I know, I’m such a tease), and I promise to regale you with the entire month’s events shortly. Today, I’m just going to focus on the grand denouement of the day itself, and a realization I came to as we paraded throughout our neighborhood, me and my mother, each with a boy in hand.
In addition to loving Halloween (and who doesn’t?!), I really love my neighbors.
It will be six years ago this January that Jeff, Justin and I left Washington, DC for the suburbs of Jersey, and I will say that the relocation did not occur without some trepidation on both of our parts. My husband and I had lived within the shadow of the White House for over fifteen years. Our social lives, and most of our friends, were encapsulated within the confines of the beltway. We’d both gone to grad school there, had taken our first stabs at “real” employment in our nation’s capital. For some odd reason, I never got lost while driving throughout the city (which frankly was another reason I mourned leaving the area). Fortunately, our family had the luxury of choosing where we lived, and Jeff and I both knew moving back to the Garden State would afford Justin more educational opportunities, as well as more access to family. We were grateful we had a choice.
But in some ways, for me, returning to where I grew up felt like a step backwards.
I quickly got over it, in part because I was insanely lucky my spouse could move two hundred miles away and keep his job, and in part because this was the best thing for my kid, and really, it’s supposed to be (at least in part) about him. Our first few days in our new residence were literally spent digging out from the mountain of paper our moving company had wrapped our treasures in (I recall thinking that if Justin hadn’t been at my mother’s, we would have lost him in the house). I’d had ambitious plans of getting out to introduce myself to the neighbors, but there was always another box to unpack, and since our son would be returning to us in seventy-hours, organizing became our priority.
I need not have worried, because our across-the-street neighbors came by with their lovely children and chocolate donuts (I immediately liked them), and the hopes that we had a child close to their kids’ ages. I remember my heart clenching a little as I realized our sons were in the womb at the same time, but knowing that unless my neighbors’ boy liked to spin things, he and Justin probably wouldn’t be playing together. I didn’t divulge our situation then, just thanked them for much-needed carbs, and a promise to visit soon.
Then Justin came back, six therapists from Early Intervention started working with him, and I barely left the house again until February.
It finally occurred to me after a month of hibernation that the families surrounding us might be curious as to why we only came outside to get the mail. One day, when I noticed a few of the locals were gathered across the street, I gathered a bundled Justin up in my arms, grabbed a few brownies from a box I’d managed to throw together, and took the plunge. We walked over hand-in-hand, and I introduced both of us to the gals. I explained that we weren’t in the Witness Protection Program, and that the cars constantly rotating outside our abode were from Early Intervention. I divulged that Justin had autism, and waited to see what their response would be.
Honestly, they couldn’t have been more kind.
The initial precedent that was set has endured for the past six years, and has ultimately included Zachary as well. The women in our corner constantly ask how the boys are doing, and genuinely want to know the answer. I know, without having been told, that the people in closest proximity to us have discussed autism with their kids, and told them to remain respectful to my boys, to always say “hi” when they come int contact with them. I’m also confident that if anyone ever spoke in a derogatory manner about my progeny, these same children would defend them to the hilt. I happen to have the great fortune to live in a community where children are still taught to have compassion.
Believe me, I’m lucky on that front too.
I realized that lately I’ve begun to take this universal compassion a bit for granted, and I shouldn’t. My Mom reminded me of how fortunate we are on Halloween, after running into the neighborhood clan on our trick-or-treat extravaganza, as ballerinas, witches, and monsters paraded past us with the sole intent of satisfying that devilish sugar fix. The woman who had initially welcomed us made a point of stopping, complimenting the boys on their costumes, and wishing them a happy holiday. She made mention of what a good boy Justin was at the last house, looking people in the eye, standing patiently, and taking only one candy when the bowl was proffered. She also noticed how happy he was to participate. These are all things he and I have been working on for years, small goals that have finally come to fruition. The other moms noticed too.
Validation and chocolate, hand-in-hand. Why wouldn’t I love this holiday?
I’ve been extremely lucky these past eight years in terms of Justin’s progress, and the community at large. There haven’t been more than one or two stares or comments directed at my boy, which I attribute to the work of the autism advocates who came before me. That universal acceptance has helped, given me one less burden to bear. The fact that I live on a street where my boys are not only tolerated, but welcomed, has meant the world to me.
And now, as Halloween comes to a close (sigh!), I just want to say thanks.