Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | April 4, 2013

Dance Class

Last week I took Wil to Tessa’s dance class with me. It had been a while since he’d been there, but he always loves it when he gets to go. He enjoys the music and watching the girls dancing – I am pretty sure he’d like to join them on the dance floor.WilReading

There is a group of other dance moms that I often talk with (um, to be clear, we’re nothing like the moms on the reality show!)  and if you know me you know I have no boundaries. They know about Wil’s autism, and actually may have known we were pretty sure he was on the spectrum long before we told many other people in our life. They are easy to talk to and there are no other strings… Anyway, we got to talking about him and how he was doing. I am never one to shy away from talking about it so we were having a lovely conversation about therapy, his happy-babble-but-no-words, his brilliance with puzzles, counting and a variety of apps meant for much older kids.

The music started up again and the door to the actual studio was open (vs the lobby where we all hang out, chat and wait), so Wil went in to watch – or to join in. I went in too and we sat together on the edge of the dance floor. A few minutes later another mom – one I’ve seen around but never really chatted with – sat down next to us and quietly said, “You know, Connor is on the spectrum too. He has Aspergers.”

Conner has been in Tessa’s class for years. He is the only boy, and he is a little squirrely. “Ah, that explains so much”, I thought. Then I felt bad for calling him squirrely so many times. (Not to his face, of course, just in the car on the way home.) Connor’s ‘different behavior’ is because he is on the spectrum with Aspergers, has ADHD, and is a 10 year old boy.

His mom and I had a wonderful talk. Sharing the stories of what led to diagnosis, what unique behaviors our boys each had, how we were coping. She was telling me how Connor loved babies and often didn’t recognize the more accepted social boundaries. She relayed how when he was younger he would go right up to stranger’s babies and talk to them, gently touch them, etc. I remembered bringing Wil as an infant and Connor was always interested in him.

Then it was time to change from tap to jazz shoes and the kids all ran over. Connor came straight to Wil who was now playing on my iPhone on one of his spelling apps. He knelt down next to us and started talking to Wil… “You are doing such a great job! you are so good at that! what is your name, can you say my name? Can you say Connor?” I explained that Wil didn’t really talk  much and he said, “That’s ok, He can try. Keep trying Wil, you’ll get it!”  Then he said, so sincerely and so profoundly, “I am so proud of you, Wil.”

I am sure there are some that think Connor is squirrely, like we did. I am sure that there have been some that have treated him and his awkward body movements, his need for incredibly strict routine, his incredibly small personal space zone, as something to be ‘fixed.’ Like he is broken. But in that moment I realized there is nothing broken about Connor. I think we all could stand to be a bit more like him. I hope he knows how awesome he is. I pray he understands that he is most certainly not broken.

Right now Wil is a precious, curious toddler. His lack of eye contact, lack of words, waving his hands in front of his face and his happy babble is adorable and while it might give someone pause, it’s a short one. I am not sure what the future holds for him. He may gain language and talk up a storm. He may gain shared attention and eye contact. But he may not. I have to be ready for people’s judgemental thoughts and ignorant reactions. More importantly, I have to ensure he is ready.

Mom_Wil

“I am so proud of you, Wil.”

No matter what course his life on the spectrum takes, he will always be autistic – exactly as he was wonderfully made by God with a distinct purpose. He will always be my son whom I love more than the words in my brain could ever express.

And I will always be so proud of him.

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Responses

  1. Hi Leigh,

    Your blog is an inspiration and I share it with my daughters and sister. We met briefly at the PKD Conference in Dallas a few years ago. You had donated a kidney to someone you met through your work with the Foundation and I had donated a kidney to my sister. We always were grateful for your work at the Foundation! Anyway right after reading your blog, I saw this verse on facebook and I thought how I needed to send it to you. By the way, my two grandsons are Will and Connor, so your blog particularly touched me today. Thank you for writing it. You are an amazing person!!

    Dene

    It says in Psalms, “You have been fearfully and wonderfully made.” You are not an accident. God designed you precisely for the race that is laid out for you.

    ________________________________

    • Hi Dene,
      I do remember our meeting… I treasure my time at the PKD Foundation and all the amazing friends I made there. Thanks so much for your comment; I am humbled by it.
      One of my favorite verses indeed. If we could all cling to it and remember it when we look in the mirror or when we meet another, oh what a world it would be. I’m am still very much a work in progress, but I am trying to run the race as though I’ll win. The journey is made sweeter by the many blessings and angels God puts in my path. Thanks for being one today.


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