Griffin is set to start summer camp soon. This year he will be in a teen camp where he will learn skills to be a counselor in training at the “Y.” There have been some changes to the youth program, including the hiring of a new youth director.
When I heard about the change I became really nervous and concerned. The last director was amazing and worked with Griffin’s therapists to ensure his success in both the after-school and summer camp program he attended last summer. Would the new director be just as amazing? My anxiety started up. Change is never easy.
When we start a new program or someone new is involved I make a point to meet with them so they can ask questions and we can ask them questions as well.
Griffin was also worried that the new director might not understand him. So I reached out to her and set up a meeting to ease both of our minds.
But I wasn’t prepared for what the new director, Liz would say upon meeting us.
After greeting us she said “My brother also has Aspergers.” My face lit up. My heart became lighter.
Over the course of our conversation she shared with us things about her brother, how he was in college studying to be a gunsmith. She seemed to appreciate it when Griffin told her how some people melt guns down to make art.
At one point she handed him a sparkly fabric ball. She told him how she likes to hide them for people to find. She then handed him another ball to share with someone else. He asked her if she had a purple one and then gave it to me because purple is my favorite color.
Griffin shared his concerns about camp like “What if someone says a word I don’t like or I hear a song I don’t like?” We both let him know that the counselors would be there to help. I told him if he thought of anything else we could reach back out to Liz. He then left to go swim.
I took a final moment once he left to share that one of Griffin’s challenges is cursing to express his anger or frustration but that thankfully it hasn’t been an issue at the “Y.” I then expressed one of my biggest concerns. I shared how I often explain that Griffin is anywhere from 4-44 years old, it just depends on the situation.
I told her he’s 14 most of the time but that I wanted the counselors to understand that he still was developmentally younger other times. I explained that his ADHD might create a situation where he could loose concentration and possibly not keep up with the group. She told me she would talk to the head of his group and told me who it was so I could also speak with them.
Towards the end of our conversation I said something like “And that’s Griffin. He’s a great kid.” She replied “He really is.” I shared how I didn’t think of Griffin as being disabled. Liz added that people with Aspergers often have many talents and with that some deficiencies. “They’re just a heightened version of neurotypical people. We all have things we’re good at and things we need to work on” I added.
I’m not going to lie and say that all my worries are gone. What I will say is I feel extremely grateful that Liz was hired and that she really understands the world we live in. I can’t wait to see how much Griffin grows at camp.
I’m happy and scared to have an opportunity to invite new people into our world.