The moment we walked in he flashed his mega-watt smile and began his “I’m so excited” run around moves. I pretty much knew it had nothing to do with his dear old mom and EVERYTHING to do with his friends arriving.
We all need ‘em. As parents of those with special needs, most of us long for our children to have a place to belong and at least one person to call friend. Sometimes these friendships may be unconventional and not always with peers, but does that truly matter?
When my son, who has autism and is non-verbal, left his private therapeutic day school (Giant Steps) to attend Monarch Boarding Academy out of state his friend, Tyler, gave him the sweetest card ever. With permission I share part of it here:
“I am so so so proud of how far you have come in a year. We have become best friends! I don’t know what I am going to do without seeing your smiling face when I get you off the bus. You most definitely have become my best friend. We are two peas in a pod.”
Best friends. Both Tyler and Libbie, his teacher last year, took the six and a half hour trip to visit my son Luke for a long weekend at his new school. If that doesn’t show true friendship I don’t know what does. Luke sure had a ball with them.
Luke, Libbie, and Tyler taught me several things about friendship during our weekend together. Friends do different activities together and while doing so have established routines. For example, in the pool Luke hopped right on Tyler’s back for a ride like it had happened many times prior. While just chilling out, Libbie turned on a song from the Nutcracker called the Sugar Plum Fairy. Apparently, they had listened to that together a time or two … or two hundred! Friends have things in common, go out of their way to be together, admire one another, and make each other laugh.
“I felt like I was with Luke so often I got to know him quickly. He is always on the move and so am I,” Tyler explained. He also said Luke has taught him a ton.
For her part, Libbie said the first things she noticed about Luke were how smart he is and that he knows how to work the system! Then, after hearing him use his iPad to say “I love Jesus” he became her little brother in Christ.
I could see how much Luke knew he was cared for, loved and allowed to just be himself when the three of them were together, which brought me so much happiness.
Read more from Deborah Abbs (and others) in the new book,Life on the Spectrum. Because no two people with autism are the same, Life on the Spectrum’s authors all bring their unique perspective and experiences to the table. Our honest, raw and heartfelt stories show how God is at work in the real-world struggles of families impacted by autism. Come on the journey with us! Find out more at lifeonthespectrumbook.com