Thursday, January 24, 2013

Joys of Autism: Friendship

Last week, I started a series on my blog called the Joys of Autism.  The series came about when I realized that most of my posts on autism tended to be a little more negative and dealt more with the difficulties and challenges of parenting an autistic child.  Although I don't intend to sugarcoat the realities of autism, as a parent to a kid on the spectrum, I can appreciate and enjoy the blessings and joys that come with the territory also.  I want to share those joys in this series, to help people better understand autism and to encourage parents or caregivers of those on the spectrum.

The other night, I was talking to a friend on the phone.  We were making final plans for a Saturday outing and just chatting about our kids and life in general.  After I hung up, I began folding a basket of laundry and thinking about my friend.  The realization hit me that she and I would probably never had met, let alone become such close friends, if it were not for David's autism. 

The truth is, our journey with our autistic son has led us to meet some pretty amazing and wonderful people.  I remember well the first time we encountered "Mr. Scott," David's teacher in 3-year-old preschool.  He was the first adult that seemed to have an uncanny ability to connect with David and get him to do things that we thought were impossible.  He patiently listened to our concerns, went out of his way to help us solve problems that we were having with David, and most of all genuinely cared about our kid.  David had several more teachers that took extra steps to help him hit milestones.  I will never forget "Miss Sally Ann," David's physical therapist at Neurotherapeutics.  She was so kind, so gentle, and undoubtedly David's biggest cheerleader during that time of his life.  His confidence grew in leaps and bounds as well as his overall body strength.  I looked forward to each Wednesday so I could chat with her and hear someone talk about my son in such a positive and encouraging way. 

Most of all, one morning while I was dropping off my three-year-old at his class, feeling scared and unsure of the steps we were taking with him, another mom approached me and introduced herself.  She had twins in the same class as David.  We immediately connected and starting to get together with our kids often.  Dawn is one of those rare friends that you feel like you have known forever.  We have chatted for hours about our families, schools, and churches; and we have found ourselves buried in deep discussions on faith, relationships, and our children.  We are dedicated moms.  We are loving wives.  We are faithful friends.  We are encouraging women.  But the thread that ties us together and keeps our friendship strong is our mutual desire to help our kids in the special challenges they are facing.  I can share all the details of a rough day with David, and she understands.  She doesn't just have compassion - she gets it!  She doesn't have to try to comprehend it;  she is experiencing similar issues and challenges with her own children.  She knows.

I am grateful for the friendships that this journey with autism has forged for us.  Did I mention that Dawn faithfully came by every morning to pick up David for school so that my big old pregnant self wouldn't have to pack up my crew and do it? 

She's a pretty amazing friend, and I am blessed to have her. :)


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