Sometimes, when I am applying "real" autism stuff to our little corner of the autism world, I need to get my arms around how terms or circumstances apply in our life - how does something like "community involvement" or any of its variations play out in our family dynamic?
To answer this question, I will use a minor occurrence from last Tuesday. You see, last Tuesday J received two postcards in the mail. Ask yourself the last time you received two postcards the same day! Heck, when is the last time you received one postcard?
The first postcard is from J's kindergarten teacher. Now, please be aware that Jason is done with Kindergarten. He graduated. Just ask anyone who lives around here, and they know, since J told everyone he saw - very loudly and at the expense of any other greeting, "I graduated Kindergarten!" - for the last 3 weeks.
And, truth be told, Mrs. D'Nealian is one of a long line of perfect people who have entered our lives as a result of being part of J's "community". Some examples:
J's first therapist just sent us pictures of her new baby, still in touch after moving away two years ago.
J's second therapist had both of my sons walk down the aisle in her wedding. That was the day that J took a bite out of the wedding cake. The bride's response? She laughed the loudest of anyone.
J's third therapist is a lasting friend, and even gave our other son, T, his first fish (named Tony).
J's fourth therapist is also a lasting friend, and is the source of one of our great dogs, Marley (hey, there seems to be a pattern developing here.)
J's fifth (and last) therapist weathered some storms of defiance from a newly assertive J with a stiff upper lip, and still took the time to come see the Autism Hub presentation in January.
J still gets mopey from time to time and mentions that he misses N, his former SLT.
J's Special Ed Coordinator at school has proven to have his best interests in mind, and even took it upon herself to start a district-based Autism Parents group for the purpose of sharing information and putting together some simple social activities for our kids (such as an Easter Egg hunt).
J has had some wonderful aides at school, who have been by his side through much of his period of positive development over the last two years of his full inclusion at school.
J's therapeutic horsemanship teacher has also become his swim instructor, and she and her sister are also housesitters for us now. She also is working in the same capacity with Baby C now (Yikes! Don't ask about that yet).
I know I am forgetting some people here, there have been so many that have been a positive force in our family's life.
They don't tell you this stuff at the time of diagnosis, do they? They don't tell you all of the good things that come along with the challenges and difficulties. Maybe they should. It is my understanding that some parents of children born with Down Syndrome are given a "Congratulations" gift bag on the birth of their child. How would autistic children benefit if the same were to happen with our kids?
Of course, I mentioned at the beginning of this post that J received two postcards that day, and leaving out mention of the second would be a travesty. You see, J's Grandma and Poppa have been the most impactful on J's life of anyone. From simply accepting him for who he is and all the foibles that come along with him, to dedicating themselves to taking both older boys on a surprise "adventure" every Saturday that they are in town (they are part-time residents of our area), to the big trip coming up in a couple of weeks. Grandma and Poppa are taking our two older boys to Colorado, without Mom and Dad! Its a big adventure!