In chapter 11 weLear Ed about autism spectrum disorders I’ve never really have never had much experience with people who have Autism, although I’ve known a few people from a distance who have been diagnosed: mostly customers that have come into my parents’ restaurant there is one family that BOTH their sons are autistic. I couldn’t even imagine the hardship. But there was one experience I have had when I was sixteen years old that has forever left an impression on my heart.
At sixteen I was also working a part-time job in the mall at one of those trampoline places. It was a fun job. I worked with children all day and I have always loved working with kids. One afternoon a mother came with her 8 year old son. He has a sweet, round face and pretty blue eyes. I didn’t notice anything off right away. But she said, “My son is autistic and we really want to try this. But he just learned to skip yesterday, so I’m not going to get my hopes up. The first attempt she did to convince the little boy–I believe his name was Billy–to jump on the trampoline, he wouldn’t have none of it. The mother smiled and said they would just try again a little later.
About an hour later, Billy and his mother returned. Now at the time, I really didn’t know anything about autism. I just smiled my most friendly smile and knelt down in front of Billy and asked him if he wanted to jump. He nodded his head yes but didn’t say anything. His mother watched our interactions closely. Billy allowed me to take his hand (again, I wasnt aware how miraculous this was) and brought him in front of the trampoline. He was scared by I smiled at him again and explained to him that I was going to lift him up and put a harness on. I told him the harness was to protect him. I was agitated but step by step I coaxed Billy onto the trampoline and into the harness. His mother stood by holding her breath. Billy was still agitated and scared. But I kept my smile and only raised the harness with him in it slightly. I took Billy’s hand and started jumping gently. He looked a little amazed and slowly a smile spread across his sweet face. Little blitters I raised the harness a little higher so that Billy was eventully jumping at a good height while I still held his hand. I explained I was letting go but I would still stand beside him. When he seemed comfortable, I hopped off the trampoline and stood directly in front of Billy, smilIng and cheering him on. When I turned towards his mother she was sobbing. And smiling. She said,” I can’t believe it. He just learned to skip and now this. ” it was at that moment what a huge achievement jumping on that trampoline truly was for BilLy.
I was overwhelmed with emotion that I had helped make such an impact on Billy and his mother. She thanked me profusely and told me how much it meant to her that I had stuck with it and helped Billy achieve something new. I’ve never forgotten Billy and his mother. But I know when I looked in his eyes I saw understanding. I know there has to be more to autism then even recent research can know. I hope one day we can understand it more so that we can better understand the sweet Billy’s of the world.