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Summer Tip #6: Last but not least, ENJOY YOUR CHILD!

You’ve heard it before…our children grow up and one day are no longer children. Although to a special needs parent, the summer can feel endless; it really does go by in the blink of an eye. As our children grow up, they will continue to blossom and develop in ways we never thought possible. Despite all the hardships and clearly identifiable signs of a disability your child may have now, there will be things your child will outgrow and that your heart will miss.

My son with autism is only 8 years old, and I cannot explain all the hardships we have endured that eventually led to my little baby boy growing up. It happened all so fast and I wish I had spent less time obsessing over his autism and more time enjoying the other beautiful qualities he had that did shine through.

He used to only play with trains for hours on end, leaving me with a huge passion for the incredible locomotives. In the toddler years, they were strictly an “autistic stem.” He would line them up by color, throw them at me when he couldn’t communicate or if I accidentally knocked one out of line. However, I took this stem that he exhibited and created a love for real trains. We spent many summers going to local model train shows, train museums and even riding trains through entire states.

Today he is becoming more typical, and I feel so overwhelmed with joy that the signs of autism are continuing to melt away. He now has new, more typical, “boy interests” like Angry Birds and Plants Vs. Zombies. While I’ve considered doing some bird watching and going to local botanical gardens this summer in honor of continuing to educate him based off his personal interests, I will never forget the trains and how he possibly taught me more than I taught him in the beginning stages of our journey.

No matter how difficult your summer may be, don’t let it slip by you. ENJOY YOUR CHILD and have a fantastic summer!

– Michelle O’Neill, AHSS Lead Skills Coach and mother to a special needs child, plus 2!

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