In the 15 years since I'd last seen Amy, she'd become VBS music director in her own right. She'd straightened her hair, married a handsome, hardworking man, given birth to a curly headed mini-me, completed a Master's degree and was now an experienced, passionate professional in the field of autism.
It was Summer 2015. Amaze Girl was registered for the VBS Kindergarten program; Wonder Boy was in the preschool class.
Our lives would never be the same.
Amy listened as Wonder Boy babbled.
"Maybe he's a late talker?" I said, hopefully.
Amy shook her head. "He's talking," she said. "He's just not talking to you."
When Wonder Boy raided the volunteer's kitchen, Amy offered him a treat in exchange for eye contact. When he scooted across the gymnasium on his back, Amy scooted with him. When he kicked, screamed and hit himself, Amy massaged his muscles and joints.
Super Daddy invited Amy to meet.
"I'm not a therapist," she said. "I can't offer official services or a diagnosis." But what she could do was walk Super Daddy through the sometimes-difficult-to-understand process involved in getting Wonder Boy the help he needed.
Amy gathered lists of books and activities. She itemized data. She provided information about meeting Wonder Boy's sensory, educational and physical needs. She supported Super Daddy as he began the complex process involved in obtaining Wonder Boy's diagnosis.
Amy offered to meet with Wonder Boy wherever life took him: parks, schools, playgrounds; both of his homes. When that didn't work out, she helped Super Daddy maximize his time with his son.
Amy met one-on-one with Wonder Boy two Sundays/month for more than a year. "It's not enough," she cautioned, as she poured hours of her own precious, uncompensated time into planning ways to help Wonder Boy learn. She created his first Picture Exchange System (PECS) to help him associate words with things. She suggested ways to organize the home to encourage communication. She coaxed Wonder Boy to make eye contact and respond to his name. She taught him to count and self soothe. She set up a framework within which Wonder Boy could learn.
|Self soothing star light, still a fave gift from Amy|
And then? When everything had been tried, tried and tried again, Amy had the words Super Daddy needed to hear to take the difficult next steps. To assure Wonder Boy and Amaze Girl's medical, educational, health and social needs were consistently met. Provide regular therapy for Wonder Boy and special help for Amaze Girl. Secure his role as ever-present-loving-able-live-in Super Daddy.
What came next...is an emotional story soaked in love and good intentions, brimming with helpful, caring people.