Wednesday the school held its annual Halloween parade; the entire school, about 450 kids, teachers, staff and parents gather on the yard for dancing and celebrating in costumes. This is our 6th year at the school and I've been to every one, and during every one the crowd and the noise and the celebrating is too much for my son. He has spent the time either lying on the concrete, legs outstretched, with his head in my lap, or he escapes to the area on the yard where there are no other people. He's only allowed to "escape" if there is another adult with him, and in years past there hasn't always been somebody. I've been there every time, but I've been stuck to my other (NT) child, who would cling to me and cry and not let me leave his side.
This year, my younger child was fine with being with his friends and his class, so I was able to take my older son to the empty area on the yard, where it was quiet and empty and still. I sat there on the bench and watched him run back and forth, flap his hands, jump up and down and whisper to himself, and I was struck by something I'd never felt before: Pride.
In years past, I may have been upset to be separated from the crowd and all the fun, or I may have felt uncomfortable by having singled myself out, forced to the outsides because my autistic child didn't like the crowd and the noise. I may have felt sorry for myself because autism was forcing me to be an outsider when, by nature, I am not an outsider. This year was different, though. I was glad to be outside from the crowd, because it was what my son wanted. I'm sure he wasn't the only kid there who didn't like the crowd, but he was the only kid who was able to escape from it.
I was proud to be the only parent there who had a child who stimmed. I felt like I was part of a special group that's not like the rest of them; a better group, a more awesome group. We're lucky, because we've got autism. I'm sorry the rest of you don't.