How My Son on the Autism Spectrum Reminded Me I Cannot Give Up

Group activities can be hard for some children on the autism spectrum. They tend to be for our 4-year-old son, Wilson.

Wilson’s former preschool had a mother-son game night the other night. Typically, we do not attend these kind of events anymore. I receive invites or hear about them from friends, with my immediate reaction being “this isn’t for us.” I feel sad for my son, that because of his autism he simply cannot tolerate these fun events like other kids his age. I briefly feel sad for me, too, and then I move on.

However, this game night stayed on my radar. I received reminder emails, saw posts online, and several friends asked if I was going. My answer remained a pretty hard “No.”  I am ashamed to admit this, but I actually toyed with the idea of going without Wilson just so I could visit with my mom friends I hadn’t seen in so long. These are the times our life with autism can feel isolating to my son and to me. I am so thankful for my sweet friend who encouraged me to bring Wilson (and who didn’t judge me for considering to leave him at home!) She said her son would love to see Wilson and they would have fun running around.

I thought I knew what would really happen at the event based on previous experiences. But this time, it was different.

We went, armed with tools from Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy we had been working on for the past few days. I had a little white board, flash cards and snacks for incentive. Wilson sat down and earned stars by answering social and basic vocabulary questions he had been working on in therapy and at home. Once he got five stars, he got to do what he wanted, which was dance! We did this little routine several times over. He was so proud of every star he earned and excited to go run and dance on the stage in the school’s auditorium.

We left before the games began, but we stayed much longer than I expected we would. When it was time to go, I told him he had earned his favorite snack and we would eat it in the car on our way home. I prompted him to say “goodbye” to some of his peers, he did, and we calmly walked out, hand-in-hand.

I was so proud of him.

I was reminded that night that it’s easy to give up, to stay home. It takes hard work to face obstacles and learn from them.

I am not saying we’ll be going to every single event we come across. Not by a long shot. Our life is still about balance and doing what’s
right for Wilson and our family. I want to find the courage to do more though, and to never underestimate my little man.

Image Credits: Lauren Emmett

Follow this journey at Wilson’s Climb.

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