One of the best things have happened to me and my family because of Autism is the people we have met along the way. Often my husband and I will remark at how blessed we are that we have some incredible folks in our life that instantly “get” what we go through.
Since my little girl, Princess, our youngest has started school I have tried to be more part of the school environment and volunteer at school for field trips as well as drop off and pick up the kids at school more. When Johnny started school I tried to stick to a routine of school bus to and and from school to help him get used to spending the day without me and stabilize his routine. He was nonverbal and really depended on me to get through things and it was also hard for me to cut loose those apron strings and let him spread his wings. I have to admit it felt a bit weird when I started appearing at school more because I felt “out of the loop” of parents that knew each other and all ready had their kids on play dates with each other. Some parents would say “hi” to me and introduce themselves and others would only talk to Johnny and say “hi” to him which felt even more weird. All I can say was I felt after twenty plus years I was back in hight school navigating social cliques again. No thank you.
So as I tried to navigate this new social sphere I encountered many parents that immediately gushed and talked about their children’s latest triumphs and shared funny stories. Suddenly without meaning to I found myself in the middle of conversations of “well I have **** in this program and she loves it” chats. Don’t get me wrong I love learning about new places and activities for my children and the best stuff I have learned about has come from networking but not when it feels like its dressed up in “look at what my child can do.” Its especially hard when you are raising a child that is struggling to catch up (special needs) and you realize the parents around you have no idea what this truly means. You wish that they would think about how what they are saying sounds. But then again there seems to be competitiveness at the playground between parents and their littles ones development that its hard to step away from that. Especially when they have never had to watch their child really struggle and I mean REALLY struggle.
Then there are other parents who have a child that for many different reasons is struggling at school. Whether its a learning disability or Autism I often find that we immediately are simpatico and honesty is in the forefront because we have a kind of idea what we are all dealing with. We all have learned to celebrate the little things because we know that each little thing when strung together add up to big accomplishments. We also know that our children struggle but as they put so much more effort gaining skills the appreciation is so much more. A lot like when a parent gets excited for their child’s first steps.
So I dedicate this post firstly to my friend Lisa who I met via this blog and art Johnny did and we have been close friends for 5 years now and recently met in person. Even though we are miles apart our shared experiences makes it feel like we are much closer. She is my “Yoda” on this incredible journey.
Secondly I want to dedicate this post of my other friend “L” that I know doesn’t read this blog yet but she has 2 beautiful daughters. The youngest is my son’s best friend in school and her kind heart and helpful hand has helped him along since Grade 2 and I hope as he gets more independent that he is giving her peace of mind at school and strong friendship.
Thirdly, I want to dedicate my post to the teachers and EA’s that have really been there for Johnny and have spent the time to “get” him and figure out how to teach him and have built a rapport with me too.
Lastly I want to dedicate this post to all the parents I have met at parent training groups who I have lost contact with but during our time together we shared life experiences and hopefully through sharing we helped each other a bit each day.
What I have learned from my experiences of meeting parents of special needs children is that I need to take that rapport into my other friendships. So far its working and real friendships are emerging where we can being to truly share and support each other.