Updated: Jul 5
To the two young girls who invited Dyllan to play last night...you have no idea what that did to my heart.
As Dyllan is about to turn 10, I can count on one hand how many kids have invited him to play. As he is about to turn 10, I can not name one friend, or one birthday party he has been invited to by classmates. But last night was different. We decided to take the four kids to a place we have never been to see the fireworks. It is a guessing game whether or not Dyllan will be able to handle stimulating environments. It actually gives me extreme anxiety taking them somewhere new because of not knowing how he will react. Last night as Dyllan ran around the golfing activities set up doing his own thing, he got excited and took a girls tennis ball. I obviously ran over and handed her a new one and apologized. I chased him as he was stimming and taking pictures of his stolen ball. As at least a hundred kids just stared at him as the passed him trying to figure out what he was loudly screeching about, the two young girls approached us. I apologized again about the ball and she sweetly just told me not to worry about it. An older girl joined her and she asked Dyllan if he wanted to play. As he smiled at her, I explained he doesn't speak but was enjoying watching them play the games. She hit the ball a few times and would continue to ask Dyllan if he saw that and told him to watch. Her responses blew my mind and filled my eyes with tears. She asked him his name and when his birthday was, how old he was and was there anything they could do to keep him smiling and entertained. She told me they did not care that he couldn't speak and that he could play with them and she did not care when I told her he had Autism. She wanted to know more about him. Dyllan was genuinely happy that these 2 were trying to play with him. As he fleeted off to the next thing with his fingers in his ears, she told Dyllan she hopes he has a great birthday! I could barely hold my shit together.
In 10 years I have never had any kids engage with him. It never bothered me as much, but to see him now about to turn double digits it absolutely kills me. To me it also shows that kids are not being taught about Autism enough but more impotency kids are not being taught to see differences and see past them. Kids are missing out being friends with someone like Dyllan. Kids like Dyllan want friends and interaction, they are just waiting for people to enter their world. Want to know how to be a friend to someone with Autism? Just be there. Play next to them, help them if you see they are having trouble, show interest in something they are playing with. Give them some personal space and just show them you care. Invite them to play even if they keep saying no. They will get there. Someday they will say Yes! Someday they will be ready to be your friend.
So to the girls at the Holly Ridge Golf Course last night, please know that Dyllan was happy that you invited him to play, even though he couldn't say much. What you didn't see was me, holding back my tears. I was blown away by your kindness. Keep inviting kids to play and including kids you see are alone. It is kids like you that will make the world a better place.