Last night was a great opportunity to talk about two of my passions, Special Olympics and Autism Advocacy. I was running a table at a resource fair for parents of kids with special needs. I was representing Boo’s team, the St. Paul Magic. It was three hours that went by in a flash. I talked to so many parents that were amazed that something like Special Olympics existed and that their son or daughter was more than welcome to join the team. Let me explain a bit. As soon as your child is diagnosed with autism, or just about anything else, the naysayers, the doctors, the well meaning friends and family will immediately jump in to tell you all the things that your child will never be able to do. To say the least, it is very depressing. A mom was telling me about this last night. I asked if these people in her life had crystal balls. She looked surprised and said, “No”. “Right”, I responded,” And neither do I.” Only time, patience and work will be able to tell us what your child is capable of. Your doctor did not receive a crystal ball when he got his MD.” She thought about that for a moment and smiled. I continued, ” I am here to tell you what your child can do. Your child is welcome to join our team, in whatever capacity he is able, and he will be loved and accepted. Please, join us!” I gave her our schedule, our business card and a list of the sports we play and she departed, smiling. I had multiple, similar interactions throughout the night. It was such a blessing to be able to say to parents, “Yes, your child can do this. Please come!”
Parenting a child with autism can be a lonely road. Your child probably cannot join in the things his typically aged peers can do. People look at him oddly when he stims in public, or goes mute when you look at him. Parents go without self care, dates, vacations, etc. for years. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other and go on. But, when the rewards come, they are so rich. Your child reaches a new milestone, says or signs a new word, goes for a month without a seizure, the list is endless. These are the fleeting moments that make everything okay. We live for these moments. Special Olympics helps provide these moments. Special Olympics lets you see your child stand on a podium after a track meet, medal around his neck, when his PT, OT, whoever, said he would never be able to walk. Special Olympics brings lonely parents together, united as a single force. If your child is 8 years or older and has a disability, they are welcome at Special Olympics. If you have a neurotypical child who would like to participate, they can become a Unified partner. This is available to parents and guardians as well. I am a Unified partner and this lets me be with Boo Bear when he competes in track and field. Alissa is his Unified partner when he competes in bowling.
I have said it before and I will say it again, no one has a crystal ball. You are under no obligation to listen to the naysayers. You don’t have to let you them have access to your child or teen. I know who believes in Boo Bear and who does not. I am very choosy about who I let come in contact with him. He has a wonderful support team and Special Olympics is part of this. If you would like your child or teen to be involved in this wonderful organization, please shoot me an email or DM and I will help you get started. Peace and blessings. Harriet