Zach bounds ahead of his shadow through the parking lot to my waiting car, and she quickly reigns him in to protect him from the path of any oncoming vehicles. He clambers exuberantly into the backseat of my SUV, full of stories about splash fights in the pool, art projects he can’t wait to display to me, how much snack he ate. My youngest boy tells me he LOVES camp, and wishes he could stay all day long.
Since his parents are still paying for an aide to be with him, that’s not quite financially feasible at this time.
I smile to myself however because I know that time could come, perhaps as soon as next summer. Zach’s camp has worked diligently to let his shadow fade from activities, allowing him to make more and more behavioral choices on his own. There have, of course, been a few bumps on the road, where his impulsivity has superceded rational choice and adults have had to pull him back. Again, he’s five, and that can happen to any kid.
The beautiful part however is that as we talk about these incidences, he’s now not only able to articulate what went wrong, but has offered alternative paths he could have taken.
Really, what more could I ask for?
I’m hoping this newfound consciousness translates to other areas of his life, impending firsts that I am so excited to offer him. He’ll be starting karate in the fall (I’ll try anything to tire him out), and a sibling support group to discuss what it’s like to have a brother with autism. I’ve signed him up for Sunday School (given my lack of religious affiliation my husband was a bit surprised by this move, but Zach should be able to make his own choices about what he believes), so we’re giving church a go.
Then, of course, there’s kindergarten looming on the horizon, where on the very first day of school he will disembark from his bus and proceed immediately to a mainstream setting, without his own aid, and just a special education teacher he will share with seven other children. I’m excited, scared, and more than a little curious as to how all this will proceed.
Trust me, you’ll be hearing all about it soon.
I admit, as I pull out of the horseshoe-shaped parking lot I feel hopeful, because the key with Zach (and almost any child for that matter) is motivation, and this is a child who truly wants to belong, to have friends, to exchange ideas and knowledge with his peers. If kindergarten challenges and excites him, as I am confident after having met his future educators that it will, he will do fine.
Correction. I think he will soar.
And as summer wanes down to its inevitable conclusion and autumn begins to make its presence felt, I know both of us have so much to look forward to.