learning to live and love from a new perspective

Archive for May, 2014

Redefining Mitzvah

Last summer, I met with the Rabbi, Assistant Rabbi and Education Director at our synagogue. Our congregation had been piloting a new initiative as part of the Religious School program. The initiative had many innovative and engaging components– including a series of family learning sessions in which the kids had a session with one teacher, and the parents had a concurrent session on the same topic with another teacher, then we all meet up and share what we learn. The concept is phenomenal… it just wasn’t working for our family. At eight out of eight programs, I ended up leaving the adult program to join G with the kids. I called the meeting to see if there were elements of the program that could be reworked in order to meet the needs of G and other kids with special learning needs.

It was a great meeting, and we left the gathering with some concrete steps we could take towards making the programs work for everyone.

I thought the topic was closed, but to my surprise, I got a message from the Rabbi about a week later. She informed me that one of the seventh graders in the pre-Bar Mitzvah class was looking to do a Mitzvah Project* working with young children with special needs. Since Eve was only twelve, her mom was having trouble finding an organization that could accept her as a volunteer. The Rabbi was wondering if we might be interested in linking up with Eve. Eve could come with us to the family programs and other events at shul and help G participate.

Wow. On the one hand, it felt like the perfect solution to the dilemma we were having. On the other hand, it felt a bit uncomfortable to think about being someone’s Mitzvah Project.

But the more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea. First off, it’s good to know when to accept help. The offer was extended as a kindness, and it seemed the gracious thing to do was to accept appreciatively. Second, I loved the idea of a teenager (especially a teen within our congregation) developing an interest in working with kids with special needs. That just seemed wonderful on so many levels.

As it turned out, the match between Eve and G was pure magic. G (and S) adored Eve from the first meeting. Eve was thoughtful and pleasant, and very easy to integrate into our family as we attended events together.

Time passed. It ended up being a very difficult year for Eve’s family. Eve’s twin brother was diagnosed with a rare illness in the winter, and spent extended time in the hospital. In the spring, Eve’s grandmother passed away. As a family, we found we were able to reach out and offer support to Eve’s family through this difficult time.

This past weekend, Eve and her brother Max celebrated their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. We were delighted to attend as a family. The ceremony was beautiful… a true celebration of two very different thirteen-year-olds and their accomplishments.   The speeches were thoughtful and heartfelt, the chanting of prayers and Torah was close to flawless.

It was a little challenging to pay attention– as G was climbing on me, and playing “pull off Mommy’s kippah” throughout most of the ceremony. However, we stuck it out, because it felt important for all of us to be there.

At the very, very end, the tradition in our shul is that all the children come up to “help Rabbi T with the blessing over the challah”. I rushed G up to the front of the room and gave him a nudge. The sanctuary was more crowded than it is on a typical Shabbat, and G seemed reluctant to go join the other kids. At that moment, Eve caught sight of G. She came toward him and offered her hand. G broke into a huge smile. He grabbed Eve’s hand and the two of them raced over to the challah.

I looked over to Eve and Max’s parents. They had witnessed the moment as well.

The whole experience with Eve was a learning experience for me. I had always thought of a “mitzvah” as one-directional. Our family would be getting assistance from Eve, so therefore, we were the recipients in this equation. What surprised me was how reciprocal the relationship ended up. Yes, Eve’s presence filled in the missing piece for us, and allowed us to fully participate in some activities that we really wanted to be a part of. However, while participating in the programs was my original goal… that participation (as great as it was) was not, in itself, what made our pairing with Eve so special. To me, the beauty of the Mitzvah Project was the relationships that formed.

Eve and Max’s family are new to our shul. They are a family with two teenagers, and they don’t live near-by. If it weren’t for the Mitzvah Project, I think it’s unlikely that our paths would have ever crossed. And yet, I now feel a connection to their family that runs just as deep as the connection to other families who are closer to us geographically, have kids the same age, etc.

There’s a vulnerability that happens when you open up and ask for help. I felt that sense of vulnerability in accepting help from Eve. I know Eve’s parents must have felt some of it when accepting help to overcome the challenges life threw at them this year. The vulnerability can be scary and uncomfortable… but there’s an openness and honesty that can only grow when you let down the walls and drop the defenses. There’s an interconnectedness that can only take root when you let other people know you need help.

So, yes, I felt a little uncomfortable becoming Eve’s “Mitzvah Project”… but I’m so glad I didn’t let the discomfort stop me. I learned that a “mitzvah” when done right, does not have a giver and a recipient. I learned that there can be so much giving and receiving that happens between both parties, and hopefully, there can be a relationship that flourishes in the middle.


*The word “Mitzvah” has several definitions.  It means commandment.  It is also used to describe a good deed or kind action.  A “Mitzvah Project” is a project taken on by a pre-teen during the year leading up to his/her Bar Mitzvah. Parents and teachers help the child determine a cause that is of interest, and some way that he/she can take action on that cause.

Who Is Smiley?

For some reason, my kids have always seemed to have a special relationship with crossing guards. (For example, see https://frootloopsblog.wordpress.com/why-froot-loops/).   On the days that we drive to school, we see our friend Sharon (the crossing guard in the Froot Loops story). Lately, we’ve been walking, and we see our friend Joan who presides over the intersection on our pedestrian path.

 Before I start this story, there is one thing you should know about G. That is, he has the most charming, delicious smile on the planet. I might be a little bit biased… but not much. If he looks right at you and grins, I promise you will absolutely melt. Sometimes, I play games with him just to get him giggling. The games are every bit as much for my enjoyment as they are for his. As for the rest of the people in my family, we all have nice smiles as well… but there is just something transcendent about G’s smile that’s hard to describe.

 So, back to the story. It’s a fairly long walk from our house to school. The last block of the walk is slightly uphill, ending in a very busy intersection right before the school building. When we arrive at the intersection, it is usually bustling with pre-drop-off commotion. Crowds of parents and children converge at the corner and wait for Joan’s signal to cross.  

 Often in crowds, G will get quiet. His eyes widen, he takes in everything around him… but he doesn’t talk much. Often, when it’s our turn to cross that crowded intersection, G will wordlessly grasp my hand and do his happy little skip-hop across the street.

 I never thought much of it… but I guess it made an impression. A few weeks into the school year, Joan began referring to G as “Smiley”. I guess something about his wordless, bouncy, smiling presence caught her attention. Every day, as we approach the intersection, Joan seeks him out of the throng. “Hi, Smiley!” She calls to him. “How’s it going, Smiley?” He rarely responds verbally, but he usually rewards her with an ear-to-ear grin.

 At least, that’s how I interpreted our daily interaction. However, it seems I’m not the only one with an interpretation. One day last week, we were in mid-cross. Joan called out to us as we passed, “Hi, Smiley! How’re you doin’, Smiley?” As usual, G smiled up at her. But then, S called back, “I’m doin’ good!”

 When we reached the opposite side, I asked S, “Wait a second. Who is Smiley?”

 S looked at me as if I had two heads. She planted her fists on her hips and replied, “Well, I’m Smiley, of course.” Her tone implied that she found her answer to be perfectly obvious.

 While I don’t enjoy being looked at as if I’m dense, I did enjoy the moment. It was so perfectly S. In my daughter’s world, she loves everyone and everyone loves her. If the crossing guard is calling out “Hi, Smiley!” then it must be that she is Smiley. I absolutely love the confidence and self-assurance.

 I almost let the moment go… but a question popped into my mind. S thinks Smiley is her. I think Smiley is G. But what about G? Does he have an opinion about this?

 I let S walk ahead, then I leaned over so I was eye-level to G. I asked him, “Did you hear the crossing guard say ‘Hi Smiley’?” G looked at me wide-eyed and nodded. “Okay,” I continued. “I have a question. Who was she talking about? Who do you think is Smiley?”

 Without missing a beat, G grinned up at me and poked at my chest. “You are,” he proclaimed emphatically. “You are Smiley!”

 “Me?” I asked him. “Why am I Smiley?”

 “You are Smiley,” he replied, “Because you are beautiful.”

 It doesn’t get much better than that.


On the Challenges and Joys of Raising a Spirited Child

Parenting my spirited daughter, S, has always been a balance of encouraging her admirable sense of adventure while setting limits to keep her safe. When she was in preschool, the other moms of young children would look at me with scorn as I allowed S to climb to the very top of the “big kid” structures… well beyond what they considered to be a safe place for a three-year-old to be.IMG_2474

But that’s how it’s always been with S. Her independence, curiosity and fearlessness are a powerful cocktail of personality traits that always send her seeking the next big challenge. When those traits are channeled in a positive direction, it is a sight to behold. One of my favorite activities of the week is gymnastics. I love to sit in the viewing area and watch S in her natural environment. I’m not a gymnast, so I don’t know the names of anything… but she’s recently learned to do this stunt where she bounces on a mini-trampoline, launches herself hands-first onto a raised mat, then does a flip into the foam pit. The look of pride and confidence that radiates from her face as she emerges from the pit is absolutely priceless. It makes me want to rush down to the gym floor and envelope her in an enormous maternal bear hug. But I resist.IMG_1218

I resist not only because I would look a little ridiculous down on the gym floor, among the leotard-clad pre-teens. I resist because S is not one for bear hugs, maternal or otherwise. Unlike G, who I often have to pry off me, S is not big on physical signs of affection. They intrude on her growing sense of independence.

You may have noticed that most of my parenting stories on this blog are about G. Yes, this blog is about autism, and G is the one who is actually autistic, so it’s natural that the focus is on him and his challenges and successes. But, the truth is, it’s deeper than that.


My relationship with G is straight-forward. Uncomplicated. When I think about parenting G, I reflect on moments when I’ve needed to learn new skills. I’ve needed to adapt my IMG_1300understanding of a situation or adjust my thinking to include a new perspective. But whatever the external challenge, the bond between me and G is solid. I am the center of his universe, period. Whatever difficulty he is facing, he looks to me to fix, and I do.

My relationship with S (at least at the moment) is much more complex. When she is facing a challenge, I am much more likely to be the source of her difficulty, not the solution. I am the rule-maker, the limit-setter, the enforcer. These days, she is often mad at me, or we are mad at each other. She wants so much independence. It’s a challenge for me to maintain a connection when she is pulling so hard to establish her independence.

Every once in a while, the small child I know is in there rises to the surface. She had had an argument with a friend over the weekend, and on Monday I could tell it was still bothering her. Everything about her body language was closed off, and she was refusing to talk about it. After resisting my overtures for an hour, she finally broke down. She climbed onto my lap, rested her head on my shoulder and cried. The words came spilling out.P1000681

As much as I hated seeing her in distress, I was relieved when she finally let me in. Standing on the other side of her emotional wall, there was no way for me to help. I was grateful that, once she opened up, I was able to bring some comfort to her when she needed it.

I look ahead to the turbulent tween/teenage years. I know S and I are going to have some difficult times. I completely admire S’s independence and determination.  Those are the qualities that are going to separate her from the pack. She has the fortitude and the confidence to take risks, and you can’t accomplish anything important without taking risks. I just hope that we will continue to share a connection even as the pull of outside challenges grows stronger.

For now, while I love the fearless, independent S… I’m also grateful for the moments of dependence that are growing fewer and farther apart.  And because she is a bit more reserved with her affection, I’m enormously grP1020373ateful for the moments when she expresses those deeper feelings.  (Picture below of the best Mother’s Day card I could possibly ask for…  made even sweeter by the fact that she made it on her own, completely unprompted).





Take Me Out to the Ballgame

About a month ago, I took G in for his annual well-child visit at the pediatrician. For the most part, things checked out okay. All ten fingers and toes are still intact. He grew taller, but could stand to gain more weight. He’s happy and healthy, developing socially and academically.

Dr. B. ran down the usual list of questions. What do you wear on your head when you ride your bike? (A helmet). Are you eating your vegetables? (Yes… under duress.) Drinking your milk? (Yes.) Do you have playdates? (Thankfully, blessedly, yes.) Do you have any activities that you do after school?

Drat, drat and double drat. I thought I had all my bases covered. I mean my sensory-sensitive kid is eating his vegetables and drinking his milk. My socially challenged kid has playdates. During the course of the week he gets speech and language therapy, behavior therapy, and social skills instruction. What more do you want from me?!?

And then I took a breath. And I thought about G’s week from a new perspective. G spends about four hours a week in various therapies. He spends another four hours getting carted around to his sister’s activities. What about activities for G?

I almost lost it right there in the exam room. My sweet, sweet G. My daughter looks out into the world, sees every possibility under the sun, and wants to try it all. And so it is that she is doing gymnastics, learning piano, attending Hebrew School, and participating in Girl Scouts. And somehow in the shlepping and the scheduling and the balancing… G had gotten lost in the shuffle. I made a promise to myself to rectify the situation.

But when I got home and tried to wrap my head around finding an activity for G, I felt the familiar feelings of anxiety and depression wash over me. Between G’s therapies and S’s extra-curriculars, our time to add something new was pretty limited. The process of finding an appropriate activity, that was either ongoing or starting in the near future, that would fit into our already overpacked schedule seemed as likely as finding a needle in a haystack.

Then a friend told me about T-Ball. T-Ball is the most junior division of Little League. T-Ball players are four to six years old. There are no practices– just one or two games a week. During the game, there are no outs and nobody wins or loses. Everybody bats. Everybody fields. The emphasis is on learning the rules of the game and on learning good sportsmanship. Nobody cares if you run the wrong way, drop the ball, or require ten tries to make contact with the ball.

With each detail my friend shared, it became clearer and clearer that this was the right activity for G. In almost every aspect of my life, indecision plays a major role. But not in this case. An hour after our conversation, G was a registered member of Little League.

In the days leading up to the first T-Ball game we practiced in the driveway. It seemed like such a good idea when I signed G up… but once our practices were underway, I wasn’t so sure. Something I hadn’t really considered before: Baseball has A LOT of rules. But, we broke it down. Practiced each one individually. Made sure it was mastered before we moved on to the next. Hit the ball. Hit the ball, then drop the bat. Hit the ball, then drop the bat, then run to first. Hit the ball, drop the bat, run to first, then look to the coach to see if you should run or stay. Step, by step, by step.

The day of the first game arrived. We showed up a little early to receive G’s bright orange hat and shirt. Once he donned the uniform, he was a boy transformed. What happened to my jumpy, flappy little guy? The kid standing out in center field looks like a BASEBALL PLAYER.


We’re now three weeks in to the season. Some lucky star was shining down on us during the team assignments, because the coach of G’s team is incredibly patient, but fun and enthusiastic at the same time. G loves him and responds excitedly to his coach’s instructions. (The other day we were playing in the back yard, and I overheard G giving batting lessons to S. He said to his sister repeatedly, “Coach C says ‘bend your knees so you’re really strong’!” and then “Good job! Now, hustle, hustle!”)


And the best part? G loves T-ball!! He talks about it every day at school. He’s got a special place in his room where he keeps his shirt and hat between games. We’ve amended our bedtime blessing to include the phrase, “Thank you God for inventing T-ball!” What started out for me as a grudging attempt to meet the expectations of G’s pediatrician has developed into something much, much more. I signed G up for T-ball with my fingers crossed that the experience wouldn’t be a miserable, humiliating failure. The fact that it’s turning into something he enjoys and feels excited about? That is just way beyond anything I hoped for.

Last night, the spot near home plate where I usually sit was taken, so I set up camp directly in front of third base. I thought I was going to miss out on the action… but it turned out I was in exactly the right spot. Nothing could compare with the flash of G’s smile as he came running down the baseline from second to third.



As a parent of a child on the spectrum, I know what it’s like to watch your child struggle. It’s heartbreaking to see the amount of effort it requires to do something that comes easily to other kids. But that’s what makes moments like these even sweeter.

Of all the roles I pictured for myself upon becoming a parent, “sports mom” was never really up there. But if you come to a game, it won’t be hard to find me. I’ll be the one camped out in front of third base, cheering on my son and his team at the top of my lungs.

A Nurturing Environment

Two years ago, I was at the town pool with my kids. S, already little Miss Independence at age six and a half, was on the other side of the pool swimming and playing with her friends. I was in the shallow end with G. He was splashing, flapping and amusing himself by making silly noises. I was delighted that he was having such a good time. It was a season-long struggle to get him in the water. (See earlier post). The fact that he was even in the water was an enormous accomplishment. The fact that he was having fun? Priceless.

Two children from my local preschool class spotted me, and came over to say hello. I greeted them with warm smiles, and asked about their summer so far. G had been quiet for a moment, so I made an attempt to introduce him to my students. They were, after all, exactly the same age. However, they didn’t know each other because these kids attended the local preschool where I teach (and where my daughter attended). G did not go to this school, because he attended our town’s integrated preschool school where he received special education services

Unfortunately, G was totally uninterested in the introduction. He started up again with the noises and splashing. He didn’t like that I was paying attention to the other kids, and he tried to engage me with some of our favorite nonsense words. I actually don’t remember exactly what he was doing, because his behavior fell in the realm of our “normal”. The look on my students’ faces told me that this behavior seemed anything but normal to them.

“Is that your son?” the little boy asked me incredulously.

The little girl chimed in, “Why is he so weird?”

And that was it. The beautiful celebratory bubble that had enveloped me just moments earlier evaporated, and I was left speechless and stunned. I managed to stammer, “This is just how he likes to play.” Then I maneuvered G over to another area of the pool.

In the three years that G was in the integrated preschool, I never heard anyone use the word “weird” to describe another child’s behavior. Friendships formed between typically developing and not-so-typically developing kids that were beautiful to see. All of the kids got the opportunity to be around classmates with all kinds of differences. The staff had the attitude and the skills to make it work.

When G transitioned to kindergarten, I was delighted that he was going to be attending our neighborhood school. He would be mainstreamed into a typical classroom. But as thrilled as I was about the placement, I was also worried. Would the staff in his kindergarten class have the attitude and skills to make it work?   Or would G be regarded as the weird kid, sitting on the sidelines?

As I’ve written in other posts, this year has been AWESOME. G is included in the life of his class in every sense of the word. I’m beyond delighted. But I’m also worried. Right now, there isn’t such a huge difference between G’s behavior and his peers. In a well-structured environment, he can blend right in. And, in his kindergarten class, his peers are learning to see him as a valuable member of the community. What will happen next year?

According to both G’s neurologist and his developmental pediatrician, we should expect that the social and academic demands in G’s life will increase in the next year or so. We need to stay on top G’s difficulties with attention and anxiety. (I don’t mean that my husband and I should be attentive and anxious. We already are. I mean that G has trouble sustaining attention, and he is susceptible to anxiety). The warning signs are there, but so far these are obstacles that aren’t slowing him down yet.

Will next year’s staff have the skill and the attitude to help G, and kids like him, be part of the class? Even if G’s differences become more pronounced, and the other kids become more aware… will he still be included? Despite my worries, I do have a lot of confidence in the staff at G’s school. I know all the teachers have been trained in Responsive Classroom (www.responsiveclassroom.org), and that training is evident in the high level of skill in supporting kids’ social development.   I can appreciate how well the Responsive Classroom approach is being implemented, because this is my background and training as well (more about that in a future post).

The culture at our school places an emphasis on creating a safe environment for all kids. The attitudes and skills to make this happen are in place. As the tide turns, and the challenges our child faces become more pronounced, I hope we can find this acceptance and support in the broader community as well.

What I Learned During Spring Vacation

I apologize to all my loyal readers (all six of you!) that I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been working with an editor to possibly have a short piece published “for a wider audience”. I’ll let you know if that works out. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I have a lot to catch up on…   but I’ll start here. Last week was Spring Break. A few months ago, we made a decision to try going to a family-friendly hotel on Cape Cod. We found a place that looked really fun. Indoor pool, family-suites with a bunk bed, family entertainment at night… and a “fully supervised, drop-off kids program” every morning. Sounds great, right? The beginning of Spring Break was promising to be a very busy time. Out of town guests. Passover. Filling the kids’ days with activities for six unstructured days.   The idea of dropping the kids off at “Kids Klub”, going for a (solo) walk on the beach, and then curling up on a lounge chair with a good book sounded just short of heaven. 

It sounded just short of heaven except for one thing. Would G be able to do it? Feeling uncertain about what G is and is not able to do has been a major preoccupation of late. He’s come SO FAR. Skills that seemed completely out of reach just a few short months ago are now solidly in his wheelhouse. Tasks that brought both him and me to tears in the fall are now completed without a second thought. So, the question remained… could we drop him off at “Kids Klub”—a new environment with an unknown structure and unknown people? Would it work?

But as much as I agonized over it in the days and weeks before the trip… I couldn’t get myself to make that phone call. I just COULD NOT pick up the phone and ask to speak to someone about the Kids Klub. I tried a couple of times, but my hands started shaking and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get on the phone with a total stranger and lay out all of my son’s weaknesses and challenges and ask if he could still be part of the club. It wasn’t rational, and it certainly wasn’t good parenting, but it didn’t change the fact that I couldn’t make the call. I procrastinated right down to the day of the trip, and then it was too late. We were leaving for the Cape the next day without any information about the Kids Klub beyond what was on the website, and without conveying any information about G to the people running the program. I had made the decision to do nothing by default, and I did not feel good about it.

The day of the trip arrived. We threw our bags in the car and hit the road. When we arrived at the hotel, I drew in a deep breath of relief. The people who greeted us at front desk were warm and friendly. The room was clean and spacious, with a beautiful view of the river and the ocean. So far, everything was turning out in real life to be equal to what was promised on the website. This is not always the case, and I was thankful that our trip was off to a good start.

We had a great evening. We swam in the pool. We ate dinner in a local Mexican restaurant with décor anusic that was loud and colorful. We went to bed happy and relaxed.

Until the next morning. G was doing GREAT in the comfort of our little family of four. Was I really being fair to throw him in to an unknown situation? What if the other kids didn’t treat him nicely? What if the counselors didn’t have the skill to help him keep up with the group? What if he was totally miserable? Why didn’t I reach out and share information about G before we arrived? My stomach was in knots.

I went for a walk past the area where Kids Klub was to meet. I was hoping to catch a word with the director before other families started showing up. But the resort was an informal sort of place, and there were no signs of life until Kids Klub was just about to start. So, I took a deep breath, gathered G and S and approached the growing gathering of kids and staff.

As we drew near the sign-in table, an energetic young woman in her late teens or early twenties gave us a big smile. We introduced ourselves, and within moments, G and S were immersed in a pick-up game of soccer. As soon as the kids were out of earshot, I pulled the counselor aside. This was the moment of truth. I opened my mouth, and a jumble of words about autism, speech and language delay, difficulty with transitions and I don’t even know what else spilled out. It wasn’t eloquent. It probably wasn’t even that coherent. But at least I communicated the message that G might require some extra supervision.

I said good-bye and left the immediate area. I sat on a bench nearby. The soccer game was still going strong. S was goalie, and seemed to be playing her part with great enthusiasm. G was running, jumping and flapping happily. He was in near the action, and even kicked the ball a couple of times. I decided to cut the cord. From a distance, I waved good-bye and left the area.

That’s when I did something weird. My vision of relaxing on vacation included curling up on a lounge chair with an ocean view and reading a book. That’s exactly what I did… sort of. The weather outside was chilly, with a blustery wind sweeping through. Not exactly beach weather. However, the indoor pool had floor to ceiling windows. The upper deck afforded a sweeping view of the beach and the ocean, both resplendent in a dramatic, stormy way. I grabbed my book and angled my lounge chair toward the window. From my perch, I had a great view of the waves crashing onto the sand. I also had a great view of Kids Klub.

I know, I know. Why all the drama about dropping the kid off at Kids Klub if I was just going to sit there and watch him the whole time? That’s just what I was wondering. But as I sat and watched, the answer came to me.

I was watching him succeed.   He was navigating a social environment that was totally new to him, and he was DOING IT ON HIS OWN. I watched for a long time. Sometimes he was right with the group. Sometimes he was nearby. Sometimes he was jumping and flapping. But always he had a huge smile on his face. And so did I.

And as I was watching, another realization came. I understood why I wasn’t able to make the phone call to ask for extra support. It was because I couldn’t visualize the success. I could visualize G struggling. I could visualize all the trouble areas, and the things that could go wrong. But I couldn’t create a mental image of G blending in with the crowd, having fun at the activities. So now, in the moment, I opened my eyes wide and DRANK IN EVERY PRECIOUS SECOND OF HIS SUCCESS.

Like I said, I stayed there for a long time. I witnessed a great deal of G being successful. I also saw the challenges. The transitions were hard. G did not follow multi-step directions when they were given to the whole group. Instructions have to be broken down or given to him individually (or both). He needed extra time for complex tasks. I know these challenges. I live with them every day. These are the images that clog my brain when I try to envision G in a new environment.

At the end of the morning, I came to pick up the kids. They both had enormous smiles on their faces. Kids Klub was a success! I was grateful it worked out and both my kids had fun. I was grateful to have had the morning to read a book. But most of all, I’m grateful to walk away from the experience with a mental image of G having fun with his peers.

The next time I’m faced with a similar dilemma (I want G to try a new activity, but I’m not sure how to reach out to the staff of the program), it’s not going to feel so scary. Yes, I’ll feel terrified to set G loose in an unknown swim class or Little League team or after-school club… but I won’t feel hopeless or helpless. It won’t be easy, but I know that now that I carry that image of success with me, I’ll be able to make the call (ahead of time!) to describe the challenges.Image


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