Last week was Fall break for Boo and Mouse. Mouse had lots of plans with friends and I expected Boo to hang out with his beloved PCA, A. She swung by the house for him around 3:00 on Friday and off they went in search of adventure. Time went by and I realized it was after 7:00 pm and there was no sign of either of them. I was not concerned as I trust her to always take good care of Boo. A little before 8:00 pm my phone unleashed a barrage of texts and pictures. Apparently they were at the Mall of America, fondly known by locals as the MOA. Boo loves to go there just to wander around, have a snack, or sometimes go on the rides. Yes, for those of you unfamiliar with the MOA, it has an entire amusement park inside the mall. I find the MOA completely overwhelming but Boo and Mouse love it. Apparently, A had gotten a text from her boyfriend who is also a PCA. He takes care of another teen on the spectrum, M. M and Boo sometimes hang out. Anyway, it was M’s birthday and he wanted Boo to come to the mall and go on rides with him. His mom had already bought ride passes and everything was set to go. Boo and A headed for the mall. Looking at the pictures, all concerned had a blast! Boo rode rides (he loves roller coasters and swings) ate pizza, did a meet and greet with some cheerleaders from the Vikings, and hung out with M and some other boys.
A little after 10:00 pm Boo and A came home. Boo was literally glowing and bouncing up and down with excitement. I thanked A profusely for giving him such a wonderful night. These are the nights that I call “living beyond the diagnosis”. Yes, Boo is on the spectrum, on the severe end. Yes, he is non verbal. But, he is a teenage boy first. Like most boys he likes to hang out with friends, eat pizza, flirt with pretty girls and go on roller coasters. Everyone should have a chance to do things like this. Life with autism can sometimes be incredibly hard but sometimes you get a few minutes of grace. Grace is when your son gets to hang out with other kids and do things that a typical teen would do. Grace is when your son sits in your lap and shows you his pictures of his adventures on his Ipad. Grace (yes, even this is grace) is when your son is so excited about his big adventure that he stays up all night bouncing up and down and babbling about it. Grace is when a mom stays up late waiting for her teen to come home from a night with friends when she thought that this would never happen. Autism is a surprise package and as a parent you are never certain what you are going to unwrap next. Some surprises are not so nice and other ones will warm your heart. Sometimes the surprise is a temporary regression and other times it is a giant leap forward. Sometimes the surprise is seeing your son go out and successfully interact with the world and come home glowing with sheer joy. That is the best surprise of all.