“Eric found a friend in the jungle gym and they are playing together. Eric won’t let him out of his sight.. Grandma is crying.”
The Subject: Eric is my 7 year-old son. He has Autism. Expressive language is a major challenge for him. He has never had a friend, a play date or a sleep over. He has never shown interest in interacting with his peers. He is in a Special Needs class of 5 children. It has been a 5 year battle for us to reach him, keep him engaged in our world and not withdrawn into himself. He has made amazing progress, but I had started to secretly prepare myself for the possibility that he might never enjoy friendship. If friendship is within reach… everything is attainable.
The Sender: My 10 year-old daughter, Anna, using her Grandmother’s cell phone. One of the real silver linings to our struggles with Eric’s Autism. Her maturity, her compassion, her generosity, the depths of her love for her brother astonish and inspire me every single day. She and Eric were taken to a new indoor amusement park by my Mom and Dad. She brought her best friend, who also happens to be amazing with Eric. The fact that she was sitting and watching Eric play on the jungle gym rather than playing on her own with her friend is not lost on me. It brings tears to my eyes.
The Footnote: “Grandma is crying”. My Mom and Dad are, without question, the most loving, giving people I have ever known. They have been by our side or right behind us (sometimes leading us) through our journey with Eric from the beginning. There are days their optimism and love is all that keeps me moving forward.
The Messenger: The text message wasn’t sent directly to me. It was sent to my wife. Let me introduce you to her. Her name is Jo Ann. The depth of her love for her children is awe-inspiring. Her strength, courage and generosity are endless. She is truly a perfect individual. She is my everything.
The Friends: When I received the text message from Jo Ann, I immediately posted it on Facebook. Within an hour it received well over 60 “Likes” and dozens of beautiful comments from friends. Some I have known my entire life. Some I have never met but have found a connection through our common struggles and triumphs with Autism. I cherish each and every one.
One text message… 24 words.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog. Jerry is a Jersey Dad whom we are so proud to share this space with.