In his book “The Tipping Point,” author Malcolm Gladwell discusses the influence that a community can have on individuals and how susceptible people, especially children, are to the communal influences around them. One of his statements is that no matter what is taught within the walls of a home, outside influences often have a stronger influence on children than our home.
Well, this week I got to spend a couple of hours with a community that has definitely shaped our lives and has left a profound influence on me. As part of Light It Up Blue in April, Utah Valley University hosts an Autism Conference that culminates with a balloon launch on Saturday. The balloon launch last year was the inaugural event and we were excited to attend this year as well. Since our decision to mainstream the boys, we’ve really had minimal contact with our Autism Community here and we definitely miss it!
As soon as we got to the event, we ran into two of the aids that worked with our boys last year at Giant Steps, as well as the former director of a program called The Bridges at Kids on The Move. Within half an hour we ran into our boys main teacher from last year, the director of Giant Steps, as well as four other teachers / aids who have worked with our boys over the past two years. The boys were excited by all the activities around them but it was so neat to see them recognize and smile at their teachers. Twin B and I were in line to get shaved ice and he saw his teacher from last year and actually left the line we were in to run over and say hi to her. We LOVE the individuals that have dedicated the time, love and energy to autistic individuals and one part of this great Autism Community is definitely compromised of these people.
After we ran into all their teachers and caught up on life and ‘the happenings’ of our twins, we ran into a number of parents and friends we haven’t seen recently. We are all in different programs of various shapes and sizes and it was nice to catch up and see where other families are at.
The kids had a blast at the different activities and were so excited to see their balloons launch with hundreds of others . . . . I think each twin let at least two balloons off prematurely but hey, the third time was the charm!
Somewhere in the midst of all this was also a baseball game – perfect timing since my daughter is doing a book report on baseball . . . not sure why she picked that but hey, it works. I’ll be honest – we have an extremely supportive group of friends and family around us and we are extremely blessed to have them. However, it is nice to get together with a group of friends who understand the freak-outs, the incessant questions on schedules, the social anxiety and issues. I am grateful for this community and all they have done for our family. WE LOVE YOU!