To me, this can bring anything from awareness to a desire to become more involved and help others. Also importantly, it begins a change in perception for next generations to be more open to the idea that there is more than one way or pace to live a life. And yes, I've seen it around me. My family's become more aware of what it means to be autistic. People in our community see James on a regular basis and start to see past the stims to his personality. Two of our respite care givers have learned more about special needs and run with it, helping James practice his letter writing, reading, and math.
|At the CATS Party; he won a tool set!|
George Lawson saw a baseball program for special needs kids and was so inspired by what he saw that he started a program of his own here in Sonoma County, the Wonder League of Healdsburg. We appreciate it, because I don't know that James would enjoy that Challenger games as much as the Wonder League, let alone a regular Little League team. This will be our 3rd year of hitting baseballs, practicing our throwing, and running bases. James' big sister is an enthusiastic participant. Our guy adores his baseball shirt and cap. George told me of one game where a wheelchair-bound player was celebrating a solid base hit with a thumbs-up, and our son ran to him and gave him a high five. That's a greatest game moment right there.
Just this year we changed class rooms for James. He went from one where he was included, yet not connected to one that had students who swooped him up in class activities and saw him as part of their whole the first week he was there. As a parent, the feedback I got went from "problems and issues" to "doing good and these things need work." Might sound slight, but it's a huge change for the better in our lives. To me, it's the best about the possibilities of full inclusion in a class that's a mutual good fit.
So how will our world change, with children being exposed to differently abled peers, and learning alongside us about autism? I hope it's for the better, with less us/them attitudes and more of a we concept. I hope it results in more open minds, sparks of curiosity, and ability to work, live, and love together.
I know this is a rather abstract Tackle project, but I'm driven to advocate for acceptance and programs that will help my guy every day. Especially when I see his beautiful happy smile, and feel his joy at being in the world.