Monday night, sitting by myself in a dimly-lit church hallway, waiting on a meeting to finish behind a closed door, musing.Remembering that he’d been thrown out of his older brothers’ preschool before noon on the first day, as he’ wasn’t ready’. Remembering the call later that month from preschool #2 – fourteen years ago – that they thought DS3 was different enough to be ‘checked’. That was the first time the Autism word was used.Remembering the reading, the 3-hour drive to the all-day University evaluation, the alphabet soup that followed: PDD, IFSP, FAPE, IEP. Remembering walking quiet, compliant, beautiful DS3 down the drive to meet the short, bright-yellow special-needs bus that picked him up each morning for the ride across town.Remembering the realization that a trust fund might be needed, the shifting of the internal compass and the career reorganization that followed, so that more money might flow.Remembering all the reading which lead to this conclusion: that early socialization, over and over and over and over, might ultimately make the difference in outcome between a self-sufficient adult and one who forever relied on his parents and brothers. But how to do it? Sports seemed out of the question, and I know nothing of music. Then, as kindergarten repeated, another thought came.A long meeting, and more musing, still sitting in that very familiar church hallway with its 1950s plaster and 1960s linoleum and the faint smell of mildew.Remembering the years-ago Saturday morning meetings with the little boys in the orange shirts, and later the longer Saturday outings, the boys now wearing blue…all while DS3 transitioned from a special-needs school to a mainstream classroom with an aide…then a classroom without an aide. Transitions marked with Lego sets, which would be flawlessly assembled before bedtime.Birdhouses and model rockets. Maps and compasses. Summer camps, but no birthday parties, as there were no friends to invite, no names he could remember. School trips, he and I eating alone while the other kids flocked together and chattered.Walking behind him every mile on every hike. Both of us attending every meeting, every Monday. Other kids at circular tables; DS3 standing in the back. Leadership requirements, service hours. Pancake breakfasts.The sole candid shot of DS3 in the high school yearbook: sitting alone on a bench, thinking.Of all things, finding out he liked to aim and shoot. Age nine: five BBs around the bulls-eye, the best at camp. Archery, and next year a .22 rifle. Then the more rigorous Shotgun merit badge, where the other boys would stop and watch the big quiet kid from whom no clay pigeon was safe.The service project, which demanded his interaction with other adults, and his peers. Concrete. Power tools. Bureaucrats and forms.Finally, the sounds of a meeting breaking up, chairs pushing back. Laughter. Laughter? The door opens and DS3 comes out, wearing his uniform with the required twenty-one merit badges, at age 17 taller and bigger than both his Dad and the men who follow him out.They shake his hand and then mine. As of moments ago, DS3 has another lifelong label: Eagle Scout.
Congratulations! I know that boys usually need the assistance and support of their parents to achieve the Eagle rank. It is a huge accomplishment and one which will speak well of him the rest of his life! Scouting is about fun and values and leadership, in my mind. And, in my case, the parent gets to have fun!Gail
Is he the child that was recently in the news for being autistic and getting his Eagle? Congratulations to both of you on a very well-deserved and earned accomplishment.My DS has ADHD, a significant learning disability, and had a Scout Master who only believed that typical kids deserved to be Eagle. He put many obstacles in the way, but DS worked through them, and made it.I have another friend whose son is a few years younger than mine and has Asperger's. The same Scout Master actively attempted to block him earning his Eagle even though he went above and beyond anything anyone had ever done or that was required. That child had to appeal all the way to Council, but he made it.For those of us who have traveled a different path with our sons to reach this pinnacle, it is an amazing journey with a tremendous feeling of accomplishment at the end.You both deserve to be very proud of this accomplishment.Congratulations.
This piece is beautifully written and very moving. Thanks for posting it. And huge congratulations to you and your son!
Best thoughts and best wishes to you and your son. One of my sister's has an autistic son who spends a lot of time at my mom's. He's very quiet, other kids will not play with him. It breaks my heart.
Thank you. (wiping away tears)
Thank you. (wiping away tears) DittoMosquito
I know I am very late to this chat, but I am so happy to read this, a bit teary. Bless you and your son and whole family.joycets
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