Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lunch out with PACT

PACT--Parents of Autistic Children Together. I've been part of the yahoo group for several months, read posts, watched as activities were listed. Today Zachary and I headed out to our first get together with the group, a luncheon at Old Country Buffet.

When I presented the news to Zachary, I told him we were going to go out to lunch with a group of parents and their kids, and a lot of the kids "think creatively like you do!" In other words, I have not had a frank and honest discussion with Zachary to say "Zachary, you are autistic." Why? Because I'm not a frank and honest person, duh!!! Seriously, I find no purpose in telling him he has a disability. Maybe its because I don't see it as a disability--autism is a translucent shade over Zachary: he can see through it to the outside, and when he likes what he sees he makes people look hard enough to see him, too. I don't want him to allow that shade to define him, I want him to continue to teach people how to look beyond the autism.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...forgive my colloquialism there, we're reading Lemony Snicket's books and he likes to use little theatrical sayings then explain what they mean to the reader. So what that means is, back to the luncheon day planning! ;) I started feeling anxious about going. I am so not into labels and I worried that all the other people would be, and it would be a judgmental atmosphere, other words, my typical insecurities attempted to flair. Zachary was getting nervous too, asking questions here and there about what kind of kids would be there, did they all like Lego's, and were they all builder/engineer/architect/inventors like him? I finally decided the only way to get over the worry was to go. If it wasn't wonderful, no loss--it was a free lunch out with my youngest, just the two of us.

We arrived about 10 minutes late. I know I know, me late, right? The woman at the counter pointed us in the right direction, and we were immediately greeted with smiles, waves, and "you must be Linda!" The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, and just that, not too much and not too little. Perfect for Zachary! There were kids from many levels of autism; so different yet so much alike. A boy put his plate down at our table, after seeing Zachary and his Eagle's shirt, and remarked "I hope you know you are sitting with Cowboy's fans!" He and his mom sat with us, the boys hit it off in their own separate-yet-friends-immediately way. I sat in amazement, tears in my eyes, as the other boy pulled 4 Lego guys out of his pocket; Zachary stood up and pulled a Lego guy from his pocket too, I think he was as stunned as I was to have met another boy that walks around with Lego's at all time!

What really struck me was the ability to relax! There was no need to worry about quirks, or sudden outbursts, or flapping, or eye contact--it was just a lunch out together with our children, and they are who they are and they are wonderful. Of course there are those times when correction and working and learning are needed to help the kids learn to be part of the world around them. Today though was an afternoon for them to share their world with those around them, instead. It was a treat and a joy, and I can't wait to do it again.

1 comment:

Tammi Moore said...

Linda, you are a wonderful writer. I always love to read what you have posted on your blog (especially the recipes). I am soooo glad you and Zachary had a great time.