The doorbell rang. As I answered the door I noticed our mailman, Tim, standing there with a big grin on his face with our mail and a pen in his hand.
"Need your signature again. In all my years I've never run across a school district who sends out so much certified mail," he told me. Still grinning from ear to ear.
I laughed and told him there will be much more to come as long as my son goes to school here. With that, he gave me an inquisitive look.
I went on and told him that my son was autistic and he is in an autistic classroom. What I was signing for was probably the NOREP for him to go to ESY (extended school year).
His smile disappeared. He paused. Then what I absolutely love came next, questions! Lots of questions from Tim, the mailman. This is where we, as parents, can really give someone a glimpse into what autism is.
His first question or statement was, can you guess? "Oh, autism. That's where they genius IQs. Asberger's? or something like that?"
Asperger's. And yes, they can be really smart but so can nonverbal children. (I really don't like functioning labels but this was the only thing he knew about autism.) Autism is such a spectrum and every child is so very different. I went on and told him a little about my son and his autism diagnosis. Like he was non verbal and a couple of years ago he started reading.
Then he started shaking his head and what came next? "Oh, so sorry to hear about your son. How do you handle it. So sorry." I told him it's OK and he is a fantastic boy! He is constantly learning and progressing and growing!
Tim proceeded to state that he doesn't ever see him playing outside. I told him that my son is heat sensitive and when the sun is out, he is usually inside. He hates to be hot and even in the deep summer months, he will be pale white. Hubby and I joke that he will actually turn translucent one day.
After a few seconds of quiet, he proceeded to tell me that his life changed so much when his parents became unable to care for his sister. She is wheelchair bound and Tim took her in. He told me it changed his whole life. I assured him our lives had changed for the better. He agreed and his smile returned. And with that, he hopped back into his car and continued to deliver the mail.
It's the small conversations that have a big impact. Who would've thought that a simple piece of mail turned into some autism awareness. I'm happy Tim and I had this conversation.
Ask me about my son's autism. It's OK. Grab some coffee and let's talk.