Something amazing happened today. Baby, I want to celebrate.
It’s difficult for my son to navigate the playground. The place is riddled with tough social cues and impatient kids. He wants to play with everyone. They demand eye contact and want to stop and use too many words. He’s here for sunshine and awesome and chasing everyone until we lose our breaths. He is unpredictable and easily overwhelmed by the noises and high energy of play. I run interference and hover. I hate that. I said I wouldn’t hover, but I don’t want anyone to get hurt. I’m holding him back (I hate that too), climbing the slide, and running in the sand to get to him before that other frowning kid says something rude to him. I have never taken my son somewhere and been able to just stand back and let him be a messy, funny, hyper kid. He never gets that chance and I hate that the most.
But today he did.
A.skate, is a non-profit foundation that gives those with autism the chance to be part of a social experience. And they do it through skateboarding. Today they held a clinic here in Orlando at the Vans Skatepark. And I have to be honest. I was nervous. I was puffing out breaths, praying to whoever could hear me, needing so badly, for Phoenix, for this to go well. I wished him to have one day, one hour, where he could go somewhere and he could just be.
Walking in I was greeted by the nicest people. I can’t express that enough. The kindness and that moment of understanding knowing we’ve just entered a place of no judgment. The volunteers that worked with my son and nephew were the most awesome, most patient people. Everyone treated my son like he was any other kid out there. They smiled and high-fived and didn’t look at him with a question in their eyes. He put on his helmet without a fuss, followed his guy, and ran him ragged. But they laughed, and he ran and I watched with a lightened heart.
Today, thanks to A.skate, my boy walked out with his very own skateboard deck, out of breath, with a smile on his face. He got to play, run, chase and be himself and I felt a whole lot grateful for the people out there fighting the good fight for all autistic people, in every corner of every socially exhausting place they find themselves in.
“Autism, like skateboarding, can be unpredictable, and often times unruly. We embrace the parts of autism that are hard to understand and give kids an outlet that is free of rules or judgment.” -A.skate