I thought it would be nice to share one of my personal childhood stories of my Autistic friend and me.
I remember when I was seven years old, in primary school (years and years ago), a mother came up to me and asked if I would sit with her son at morning tea and lunch each day to make sure he was OK. His name was Andrew; he was a couple of years older than me, and he was Autistic and nonverbal. Andrew was a runner; he was also very gentle and had the happiest smile all day.
As a child, I didn't realize what Andrew or his parents would have been going through. In those days, classroom support and social understanding of autism were limited. The school didn't have fences to help keep children who were runners safe, and our school was next to a main highway.
Every school day for two years, we ate morning tea and lunch together. I could see that he enjoyed the routine. I talked and laughed with him, and we learned to communicate in our own way.
One day, I arrived at morning tea, and Andrew didn't come; I asked a teacher where he was, and she said that Andrew had a different school he could go to now. Although my eyes filled with tears that my friend had left, I was happy we'd had those two years of friendship.
His mum came to school a few weeks later and gave me a gift and a card, thanking me for being such a good friend. Friendship goes both ways, and I looked forward to my morning tea and lunch times with my friend just as much as he did with me.
These days, I am a mum of two adorable Autistic sons. I often think of Andrew and wonder how his life turned out. I wish I could tell him how much I appreciated his friendship and how he helped me grow into who I am today. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have the chance to meet again?
To be continued...
If you would like to read Part 2 of this story, here is the link