Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Guest Blogger: Tina Shares a Little Bit of Sunshine in a Sometimes Dark World

Billie and Tyler at the Sadie Hawkins Dance 2014
by Tina (a.k.a Sprout), Super Proud Mom of Tyler

If you read Maggie’s last blog post, then you no doubt saw the links to horrific stories that have recently been in the news. These stories are tragic, sickening and extremely infuriating. They make me think and day dream evil thoughts towards these people cowards/animals. But I’m here to share a glimmer of hope in humanity. It’s a small gesture to some but in the world of special needs families, it’s HUGE!

My son will soon be 17 and was born with Spina Bifida (Learn more about SB). He also exhibits many Autistic symptoms. Tyler is mentally behind by many years academically. He’s in the 11th grade but depending on the subject, he is at a 2nd-3rd grade level, and on the lower end. But he has great communication skills when he chooses to display them and a very bubbly personality, when he chooses to show it.

We’ve lived in our current school district, Liberty, in Missouri, for almost 8 years now and despite a few bumps that are pretty typical, we’ve loved every bit of it. The schools have been fantastic with Tyler and with communicating and working with us. We really couldn’t ask for more. The students appear to be equally special. Now, I’m not delusional enough to think it’s always perfect and that there aren’t those students that don’t accept the special needs students but overall, from what I’ve seen, they are very accepting and interact very well with them. They even volunteer their time for after school activities, special needs programs, inside the classroom and for their end of the year Job Olympics, where the students show how well they can do basic tasks, such as hanging and folding clothes, pet care, basic money handling, etc. Any time I’ve ever gone to Tyler’s school and am in the halls with him, there’s never a shortage of students saying hello to him and giving him high-fives.

Like I previously said, Tyler loves to chat at times and between classes is his favorite time, as well as during lunch time. This is apparently where he met Billie. Tyler doesn’t come home and share everything about his day, in fact, if it wasn’t for his teacher, I wouldn’t know half of what took place in school. The week of Valentine’s Day, Tyler stepped off the bus carrying a big gift bag that was filled with a stuffed bear and a framed picture of Tyler with a girl and another boy. Billie was the girl. I couldn’t get any information out of Tyler but I remember he received something last year from a buddy so I didn’t think much of it. 

Then a little over a week ago, I received an email from Tyler’s teacher notifying me that he had been asked to their Sadie Hawkin’s dance and she thought I should know. When Tyler came home, he was carrying a construction paper invitation folded like a book and it was from Billie. 

(Note from Lunatic Autism Mom: awwwww..... How cute is that???)

Tyler was very excited and even willing to stay up way past his bedtime, which is 9 on school nights and anytime on the weekends, although he’s a creature of habit so he rarely stays up past 9 pm. The dance was from 8-11 and he was anxious to stay up. Billie even went to the nurse’s office and requested that her phone number be given to me so we could communicate about the dance. I didn’t find out until the afternoon of the dance that the casual dress code had been changed to semi-formal. I was pretty bummed because I had no time go out and find semi-formal clothes. But I knew we would make it work somehow.

The time came to leave. We arrived at 7:50 and went straight inside where we were supposed to meet Billie so I could take some pictures.  But the time crept by and no Billie. We watched a few other students come in all dressed up and even saw a couple of Tyler’s classmates from his SPED class. Billie sent me a text that she would be arriving around 8:10. I’m sure any mother of a SPED child can easily relate to the anxiety and crazy thoughts that started coursing through my mind. 
Is this a cruel joke after all?
Are the students mingling nearby really waiting on a show that will no doubt mortify Tyler and cause me to go to prison for mass murder? 
I had no indication or warning signs that Billie was in any way playing a cruel joke and I knew deep down that Tyler’s teacher would warn me if she suspected anything, but still. The thoughts came and became stronger as time continued to pass and still no Billie. We exchanged a few more texts with her saying she was on her way and FINALLY, at 8:32 (yes I time stamped her arrival), Billie walked through the doors and Tyler’s face lit up as he crushed her in a bear hug and she took it like a champ and gave it right back.

Tyler has attended other dances before but this was the first one where he was actually meeting someone so I was extra nervous. Hanging out with someone during a 30 minute lunch is far different than spending almost 3 hours with them. So I was relieved to see that Billie didn’t look like she wanted to pull her hair out or couldn’t wait to get away from Tyler. Tyler is a wonderful boy but he has quirks and habits (ticks) that can get annoying to someone who’s not used to being around them for very long. The next day, Billie even sent me a text requesting that I send the pictures I took the night before. She’s a very sweet girl with a big heart and I feel she’s going to do great things in this world…even if it’s by touching the heart of someone in a very selfless way. Tyler said he had a wonderful time and even danced; slow and fast!

So as you can see, we can’t give up on humanity, not just yet. There’s still a huge amount of ugly in this world and as much as I want to, we can’t ignore it. We have to confront it and smother it. And we need to bring more focus on the good, like the story I just shared. For those that are outside of the special needs world, it may be hard for them to understand what the big deal is about stories like this, but for those of us inside, it’s like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow after a terrible storm. It’s the little things that truly matter.

Thank you for letting me share my story and my first blog post! 

(Thank YOU Tina!! For being my first Guest Blogger and for sharing your story, I LOVED it and I think everyone else will too! ~Lunatic Autism Mom)

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