Autism Awareness

One of the great things about autism, and there are many great things, is the way other parents respond to your kid and the way you respond to their kid with autism. This week one of the families we know posted a photo on facebook of their son starting an internship at Sports Authority. I see this family every weekend and to see this photo of their son working in the community, understanding what a huge milestones this is, well you get the vicarious sensation of pride. I took Bryan to music class this morning and met a mom who has a 6 year old son with autism. She is working on a website for autism awareness and our friend and coordinator of the Parkland Buddy’s Sports program introduced us. We sat together and chatted for a few minutes. Her son was friendly and came over and said hi. Bryan was singing on the microphone, summoned me to come over and he put his arm around me while he sang. When I got back to my seat I told her how lucky I feel sometimes that autism gives you the luxury of having the kids grow up in slow motion. At almost 14 I am not “embarrassing” to Bryan (as far as I know) and he is warm and loving. She agreed and told me she wouldn’t trade it for anything. Amen. I have had that conversation with many Moms and the lessons learned from autism far outweigh it’s challenges. But, to get back to the point here, we were at soccer today, and one of the coaches, who is also a great friend, asked if we thought it would be ok to move Bryan up to the field with the kids that really play a game. You see, Bryan has typically been on the field but only with kids that are running back and forth and kicking, not actually playing. There is nothing wrong with where he was, but to me, the fact that the coach, another parent of a boy with autism, and friend, is taking notice of the maturity of our boy, well that just fills my heart. Reach for the stars Bryan, because you can catch one. He and his buddy went to the field and he did really well. While not scoring or dazzling anyone, he more importantly got the concept of the game and was able to hack it. The other parents that we sit with were incredibly supportive too. We all want our kids to make progress, to prove to us and the world that there are truly no limits on their capabilities. The Parkland Buddy Sports tag line is “No Limits” and today, more than any other day, it rang true to me.
During the game today I happened to chat with a buddy I didn’t know. He was waiting for my friend and her son to use the rest room, and he and I started to make small talk. He is a high school student and told me this was his 6th year as a buddy. I pointed at Bryan and said that’s my son, and he said “oh I know Bryan”. He explained how much he has learned from the program and how much he really enjoys the kids, their families and being part of something so special. He also told me he knew Jason. He said Jason told me he can be a buddy because he’s “basically a buddy all of the time”. I told Jason this a long time ago and I guess it stuck. The boy, whose name is Bradley, went on to tell me about how he watches the kids change and grow and he likes to see how they learn. You see it’s everywhere this autism awareness thing.

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