Hi,

As Dad and the other three guys make the final preparations for their Kokoda walk I thought I would let you in on some progress of our own. Last Friday our 7 year old son, who has autism, had a friend come over to visit. What’s the big deal? Well, at 7 years old, it was the first time he has ever had a friend come over to play. Sure, he’s visited friends and met on “neutral ground”, but our house and his bedroom in particular have always been his safe places where he can have his much needed “alone time”. So, having a friend over was a big step. The visit had been planned for a couple of weeks, another boy with autism would come for a couple of hours with his mum (We all accompany our kids, it reduces anxiety, for both the kids and us!). Preparations began at the start of the week with a menu planned (Cupcakes! With sprinkles!), a bedroom was cleaned (If only we always had such a great motivator), and everything began to build into a bit of a frenzy by Thursday night. It is rare to see our son so excited.
At this point there was a fare bit of trepidation, at least on my part. What if he didn’t enjoy himself? What if he went to his room and ignored his friend? What if he had a meltdown? What if his friend, who also has autism, decided not to come? I think as parents we all worry for the happiness of our children, but as I mentally checked off the things that could go wrong I began to feel really quite frazzled.
In the end it was a beautiful day. The boys played together for hours – literally hours – without the need for prompting, directing or intervention from any parent figure. They ran around the house, explored the backyard, hid in the bedroom and dug for treasure in the garden. They played with our baby daughter, ate cake, talked (to each other and us), and came inside grumbling that no pirates had left any treasure chests around.
This may not sound like anything amazing to you, but for a boy who usually sits by himself or counts his fingers when other kids are around, it was a big deal. Every day we see him taking bigger, bolder steps. Doing stuff that other little boys do. I can’t wait to see what he can do by the time his Grandfather gets back from Kokoda.