I don’t know what it is about the pool well really any body of water and many autistic people… but the two seem to go hand in hand. My son LOVES the water and I must admit, I love watching him in it. He is so free, so in control of the body that he often feels he has no control over. To say he is in his element would be an understatement. My boy is not just a fish in the water, he is King Neptune. But today his Majesty did something that even surprised me, in a good way of course.
I am not referring to how nicely he played with his little sister, which he did. Nor I am talking about the gazillion times he WAITED PATIENTLY , yes you read correctly PATIENTLY and yes it deserves to be capitalized as that is a HUGE FEAT, to go down the twisty slides… he did this too. No this post is about how my boy reached out to another boy,and this was not just any child mind you… you see this child, was, well… SPECIAL… like him yet different the way all kids are of course!
I heard him before I saw him. You see I recognized the hum sound that for so many years was a daily part of our lives. Then out of the corner of my eyes I saw the flapping arms as the child excitedly waited while his mother applied what I am sure was a sensory overloading stream of suntan spray over his body. The boy paced back and forth trying to acclimate himself to his new surroundings perhaps. I had never seen this boy before, or his mother. I wanted to jump up and introduce myself and let her know that I too was a member of her special club, but instead I sat back and let them have their moment. I watched from afar as the mother whispered something into her son’s ear that soothed the boy enough that she was able to take his hand without a protest and lead him to the water’s edge. Together they stood there letting the water lap at their feet. The boy giggled out loud. The sound was music to my ears. And then it happened… without me even realizing, Jay had worked his way over to the duo and was standing in front of them in the water. He stood up and playfully splashed water onto the boy and verbally invited him in. I gasped, worried that the unexpected water in the other boy’s face might startle him and perhaps make him upset… but to my pleasant surprise, he laughed harder and splashed Jay back. “Oh yeah… well take that!” Jay said and playfully yet gently splashed his new friend again. The boy stepped in further into the water and splashed him back. Back and forth this went until the other boy was finally submerged in the water. Eventually the boy grew tired of this exchange and swam away. I waited to see how Jay would react. He shrugged and went off to find someone else to splash and swim with. The lifeguard soon blew the whistle signaling it was adult swim time and for all kids to get out of the pool and rest for 10 minutes. As I handed Jay and Grace their towels, forced them to drink something other than the pool water and applied suntan lotion on them like the good mom I am, I tried to talk to Jay about his new friend.
“Hey Jay I noticed you splashing and playing with that little boy.” I said nonchalantly. “Which one, I splash lots of people?” he replied. That was when I realized something… something about myself that well… I actually did not like. You see When I looked at the other boy, I saw a sweet boy on the spectrum. I did the same thing that I hate when other folks do to my boy. Jay did not see that. What he saw was just a boy who perhaps was timid of the water or shy or looked interesting or perhaps might have had autism … like him? Who knows what went through his mind when he saw him… i decided that it did not really matter. What mattered was that my boy reached out to him.
By the time I was done dealing with my own kiddos and looked around determined to reach out to this mother myself and invite her to our local Autism/Aspergers Support group and to this blog and my Facebook community… she and her son were gone. I was actually sad about that. I wanted her to know that I understood, that she was not alone… but you know what… I think Jay already made her realize that. I know our paths will cross again, our community is big but not that big. And when they do… I will look at her son and see HIM first the way my boy is teaching me to do!
I am not perfect… but with the help from King Neptune… I am getting better every day!