I wanted to share a very special moment that happened last week. The following is an email I received from a fellow mother regarding a moment she and her son had with Griffin. I share this email with her permission. I’ve changed her and her son’s name to protect their privacy.
It was such a pleasure meeting you and Griffin at the Y on Friday. Getting to spend a little bit of time with your son, was absolutely the highlight of our week. Griffin is such a sweet, articulate, thoughtful kid! I wanted to quickly share with you a little bit about the exchange we had, and how very much it meant to me.
When we got to the Y my son Seth & I were the only other people in the locker room with Griffin, I was organizing our locker, keeping one eye on Seth jumping around. Griffin noticed Seth and casually mentioned to me that we should be careful with the lockers, he had slammed his hand in one and it hurt quite a bit. We chatted for a few minutes while we were getting our swim gear ready. Then Griffin took the initiative to look at Seth directly, and introduce himself. Seth’s language is almost entirely echolalic, so I said “Seth, you can say hi to Griffin,” and Seth said “Hi to Griffin.” Griffin smiled and said, “Did he just say ‘hi to Griffin’ instead of ‘hi Griffin?” I told him that yes he did, and that Seth has trouble communicating, so a lot of times he just repeats exactly what I say. (I had a little bit of that ball in my stomach, that you may be able to relate to, thinking, ‘oh please continue to be as sweet and kind as you seem to be, and don’t laugh at my kid) Griffin did not disappoint, if fact he turned out to be more extraordinary than I could have imagined!
He did not even come close to laughing at Seth’s quirky way of speaking, he just smiled and said, “ah, that is so cute!” We had a little bit more of an exchange, and he told me that sometimes he repeats stuff too. He then volunteered that he was on the autism spectrum and had Asperger’s. You would have to ask him, but I felt like he shared this because he recognized that Seth was autistic. I told Griffin that I thought is was really cool that he has Asperger’s because that means he has a lot of special talents and I told him that Seth was on the autism spectrum too. And this is when I literally melted into a puddle, your son told me “Thanks! Seth has a lot of special talents too. He has a great smile, and he can jump really high! And… oh yeah, he has a really sweet voice.” I just smiled and said thanks, that was a really nice thing to say, and we’ll see you in the pool, and turned took Seth into the pool area with a waterfall of tears down my cheeks! I mean wow, seriously, what an amazing kid you have!
Then he was so sweet, continuing to try to reach out to Seth in the pool, it was so great. I hope you don’t mind me sharing all of this, talking to your son was a wonderful reminder for me- my husband and I often spend so much time talking to each other and teachers and therapists about all of Seth’s challenges, deficits and areas of struggle, and in just a few minutes with him, all your son saw were positives, and “special talents.”, -Rachel
This was part of my response to Rachel’s email. I was so overcome, I couldn’t begin to tell her how much it meant to me but I tried.
Hello! I can not begin to tell you how much your email means to me, Griffin, and Griffin’s dad. I was crying such happy tears when I read it. You have no idea what your thoughtful and detailed account of what happened did for us. I don’t know where to start but I’ll try.
Lately Griffin has been having some challenges with certain behaviors, mainly cursing. The cursing has been a real issue for awhile. We are fortunate enough to work with ABA therapists that help target this type of behavior. He’s come so far but honestly some days it feels like he’s taken major steps backwards. Hormones have also started so there’s that 😉 We have been working on independence, which is why he goes into the locker room and the pool by himself. We have been going to the “Y” for so long and the staff is amazing. I’m always in the lobby if he needs me.
Once he gets into the pool he is suppose to do a certain amount of laps. We consider this his gym time/assignment. Because he also has ADHD he sometimes gets distracted, which is why after a certain amount of time I will go in and see how much he’s done so far.
When I came in I have to admit that I thought “Oh, no, he got off track!” But I quickly realized something more important was going on. He was connecting with you and Seth in the most amazing way. I know what you mean when you think “Oh no, please be nice and don’t make fun of my kid” once someone realizes what is going on. We feel the “pit in the stomach” once someone see’s a meltdown Griffin has, will they still think he’s amazing?
I am beyond grateful that you got to see Griffin for who is truly is, an amazing kid. I’m also grateful that Griffin without question saw your beautiful Seth for the amazing kid he is.
We have taught Griffin to celebrate and to be open about his differences if he feels comfortable doing so. We’ve also tried to teach him to celebrate others differences too.
So much of what you wrote resonated with me, including the part about talking about and focusing on the challenges and struggles. We speak the same language. I hope you and Seth know you have two new friends. -Missy
In the beginning of realizing something was going on with Griffin, there were many times I would find myself on the floor crying uncontrollably and praying to God for answers. There was so much confusion even among the professionals he was seeing. I prayed for wisdom and that these professionals would be able to help us. I remember thinking that one day if I was able to help just one person the pain might just be worth it.
I immediately noticed the teary eyes Rachel had when I first saw her and she began to speak. I have had those same teary eyes. To know that someone gets it, is such a comfort.
It’s a privilege to be in the position to be there for others going through a similar experience. I’m so proud of Griffin and the beautiful soul that he is and that he is spreading love and unconditional acceptance.