Gift from heaven

Remember, I told you how I had to give up theater after middle school? For my first two years of high school, there was no more drama.  By that, I mean drama on stage.  There was plenty of drama at home—those new brain challenges that started during eighth grade really messed me up.  But, during my sophomore year, in October, on the evening of my 17th birthday, my mom came up with a new idea—she said it was a “gift from heaven that dropped right into her head while she was sleeping and dreaming”.  We had been at a “transitions” meeting sponsored by the school district (this series of meetings was providing information about transitioning from high school to young-adult life). There was a panel of people telling personal stories about how their lives were affected by being around persons with special needs.  Some of the presenters were folks with special needs, others were parents, siblings, or therapists of “special” people.  At one point, they asked the audience if anyone wanted to share anything.

I did!  I was sitting at a different table from my mom, and I raised my hand and started talking.  It all came out so easily—how I couldn’t speak when I was little but my mom worked with me until I learned; how I’d taught myself to play banjo after earning the money to buy it (I worked in my grandparents’ garden all summer to get the funds together); how I now wanted to help the environment and the whole world to become better and “greener”…  I told some jokes too, they always pop into my head, and the whole room was smiling and laughing.  I talked for three minutes straight, and then they asked me to come to the front of the room and be part of the panel.  There, I told everyone about Professor Spooner who had a disability that made him switch his consonants and turn his words around.  I was making all kinds of connections—I sure was “on” that night…

Afterwards, one of the panelists told my mom, “Your son is a natural speaker.”  She also advised my mom to trust in the way that coincidences happen and to have faith in the connections that can unexpectedly spring up between people.  My mom thought intensely about that—she’d been getting very bummed out about how we were going to manage my transition into the adult world, and she couldn’t imagine what kind of work I might realistically be able to do.

Then came the gift from heaven.  The day after this meeting, mom told me that I might have a future doing what I’d already done once in middle school:  talking to people about living with autism.  And she also told me that she had decided to write a book telling our story.  Her thought was that the book would go hand-in-hand with what I’d be presenting about.  Wow.  I’d be back on stage, and I might even become famous.  I would really like that…

Celebrating my 17th birthday with lots of great friends…

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