The other night I had the opportunity to take my eldest son Justin, who is nineteen and profoundly autistic, to Town Square at the Jersey Shore, which is an organization in Brick that has a lovely day program for elderly adults, some of whom have memory issues. It was an evening event held after the seniors went home and it was a wonderful gathering of disabled adults, many with Down Syndrome or higher functioning autism than my son, and some as disabled either physically or mentally as my son is. I registered for the event knowing that Justin at best would stay willingly for the hot pretzels (he loved them!) and the costume parade, and then we would be a hard out prior to Bingo.He did beautifully with both.

I wasn’t sure how this would go as a few months prior we had tried another event and things hadn’t gone so well. He loved the dinner they provided, but was so loud with his vocalizations during the movie that after fifteen minutes of trying to quiet him down we had to leave. Not that I was asked to leave, but I felt it wasn’t fair to the rest of the guests, so we called it a day.

Which is why going back last week and having it be a success meant so much to me.

I had so many thoughts as I drove home with Justin rocking out to my Sirius radio on the way. The first is that even within the disabled community at large, profound autism is a special piece of the pie. So many of the adults there were interacting with one another, some had parents in a room without a visual of their kids, and some were drop-offs (!), a concept so alien to me it took a minute for it to sink in.

Justin will never be a drop-off in his eighty years on earth. Not even for a minute.

What I came away with however was hope, because before I left I had a great conversation with one of the proprietors who mentioned she had a severely autistic son herself, and he had not been able to attend either of their events because they would have been too difficult for him. She told me how much they wanted to do some events just for severely autistic adults, as they truly seem to have their own niche, and are underserved in this area. She asked me for ideas, and I promised to get back to her, and I will. She couldn’t have been lovelier or more receptive to my concerns.

And this is what helps make a community great.

I will write more down the road if any of these events transpire.

I fully believe in second chances, and am so grateful Justin had his.

Hope to see you at an event soon!

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