In her book, Dancing with Max, Emily Colson talks about how Max, her son with autism joined the grunt crew at church. I can't begin to tell the story as she did so buy the book. But in a nutshell, he found a PLACE at church. Something that worked for him. For quite a few years, they would go to their church at the END of service, because the actual service didn't work for him. He would help clean up after and THIS was his church. He became part of the community that way.
We decided not to do classes at our homeschool 'co-op' this year. We are however, meandering in there from time to time just to say hi. This week we got there and Ms. Tricia said, "Hey AJ! We have a service project for you!" AJ loves service. He loves to serve. To feel useful.
So we stuffed journals and card decks into plastic bags for them to pass out on Sunday. And then...JUST like in the book, AJ started helping by stacking chairs. It was at that point I realized the parallel between AJ and Max in the book. He was part of the team, part of the group and if I dare say, he was doing it with more enthusiasm than most.
Then he spent some time playing with a three year old. It was effortless for him. (AJ is eleven.) His joint attention was fabulous and if he was three you wouldn't have known there was any issue. But this is actually quite sweet progress because in the past this would not have happened. He would not even have been able to play tag with a three year old. He shared snacks, played hide and seek and had a genuine peer relationship with him. Our RDI consultant said is the fruits of our labor of the last two years.
He is also enjoying his 'typical peer' relationships more... his buddies of the same age. But I love that his relationships are not defined by just age. We are going for our RDA (Relationship Development Assessment) soon and I can't wait to document the progress we have made over the last year.