As the school year ended, picnic opportunities popped up immediately. I was fortunate to attend a very nice gathering a week ago with families with autistic children, and their “typical” siblings.
It was so refreshing that the organizers considered all aspects that these kids and their families might need or want.
First of all, it started early, so it was nice and cool still, and ended by the time the heat was too much to handle.
Secondly, the place that they picked for this event accommodated all needs of these kids. For example, we had a nice playground, a covered picnic area, a lake to splash around, and a splash pad for children who were intimidated by the size of the lake.
It was very interesting to observe how other parents and the “typical”siblings interacted with the autistic children. For me , it was an eye opener in every way.
I saw one sibling who couldn’t care less about her sister, just playing with her phone most of the time, and when her mom asked her to participate, she looked like she was in real physical pain. The comment she made about her sister, “why does she have to ruin my life”, didn’t put her in a better light with us either.
At that point I looked at my daughter who was trying to make my son drink water since it started to get hot, so he would not get dehydrated. I immediately thanked Allah (God) for blessing me and Amin with a wonderful girl with such a big, sincere heart. God willing, she will always be kind to her brother. I am not here to judge anyone, it is just fascinating to see other reactions to certain situations.
Also, it was such a beautiful sight to see how a single father cared for his autistic daughter, he attended to all her needs in an amazingly loving and gentle way. He is certainly a good example to all.
Then we observed another very loving father who just reached the point where he couldn’t deal with his son’s misbehavior anymore. That is when some of the organizers took over his son’s care for a while.
Another young man, about 18 years old, was playing with his brother in a loving and very caring, supportive way. At first he gave me an impression that he was one of the organizers, but later on I found out that he is just one of the wonderful siblings to a very lucky autistic boy. I asked his mother how did she raise him to be so kind and patient with his brother. Her surprising answer gave me a big laugh.
She told me that when they got the diagnosis, that her husband walked out on them the same day, so she sat all her kids down and told the two typical brothers that their little brother was diagnosed with autism. When she finished the talk with them, she told the typical brothers…” if you disrespect him, hurt him physically or emotionally I will kick your @#!”. She said they have always been very good with their autistic brother thank God. I guess people have different approaches, whatever works should be applied, that is my policy.
It was a learning experience for all of us, as it is every time we have a gathering like this.
Also, this event gave many of us hope, seeing some of the kids who improved so much that they don’t even show any signs of autism anymore. It is ample proof that emotional support combined with proper therapy from trained and loving therapists, as well as prayer and a “never-say-die” attitude achieves miraculous results. All praise to God!