I have a 4 year old son with autism. He is almost completely non verbal, although some progress has been made on that front. Not enough as far as I'm concerned, but these things take time.
This school year he started an autism-specific preschool at a complex where people with disabilities from ages 3 to 22 receive services. Most of the students at this school are profoundly disabled and rely on wheelchairs for mobility.
My son is healthy and I thank God every day for that. I know nothing in this world is guaranteed.
On to my story. This past Thursday as I picked my son up from school, I ran into the head of maintenance at his school. His name is Rick. This man is someone I knew when I was younger. We grew up in the same small town. I ran into him for the first time in years when we did our orientation at the school a few months ago.
He asked me how things were going with my son at the school and in general. I mentioned to him that I was about to take my son for additional therapy at Fresno State. He does 20 hours of preschool and 20 hours of ABA therapy a week. I said "He's 4 and he has a 40 hour a week job". Which is true. He works his butt off all day long. Rick then asked about me. I told him that I'm taking 16 units, student teaching 5 days a week, in class 3 nights a week, working at the VA hospital 20 hours a week and, along with my wife, raising 2 kids and trying to stay sane.
In the span of a 2 minute conversation, Rick offered more compassion and understanding of not only my son's situation, but of my own, than I've received from some people who know me very well. It was genuine and unsolicited...and it meant the world to me. I've asked for (and practically begged for in some cases) understanding. It doesn't come as naturally to some people. Sometimes it doesn't come at all.
And here is this man, who...out of the blue...Lets me know that he realizes how difficult life with a special needs child can be. I was floored by his kindness and compassion.
He gets my son.
He gets me.
He gets it.
I don't expect people without a special needs child to really understand what our lives are like....but it's nice when someone makes the effort.
Sometimes the effort alone is enough.
Rick and a Paraeducator named Jonathan made a Lip Dub video featuring the students and staff at the school.
My son is at 2:36 (dancing with his teacher)
And at 4:41 in the lower right corner on the play structure.
You can watch the video here. Please share it with everyone you know. We need more of this type of acceptance in the world.
As for the rest of the people at my son's school?
They get it too.
PS, this is Rick.