I was standing in front of the two-story tall moving display entitled “Newton’s Daydream” at the Clark Planetarium in SLC yesterday when I met a new friend. You see, I had been standing there for at least 15 minutes while Nathan watched this amazing audio-visual display of balls going in and around and through these metal chutes. I noticed that most kids would interact with the display or watch it for about 5 minutes then move on to the other displays. Then I noticed another mom keeping her eye on her little boy who had also been watching the display for a long time. As I watched him, I noticed that he, like Nathan, was obsessed with it and was “stimming.” Stimming is when a kiddo with autism is doing a repetitive action like hand flapping, moving their fingers, or rocking over and over. So, I approached her with the comment, “It looks like you and I are going to be here for a while.” We struck up a conversation where I asked if her son was also on the spectrum. She replied that he was.
For the next 15 minutes, while our kiddos enjoyed the visual stimulation of this amazing display, we talked about everything from potty-training kids with autism, and getting them to sleep, to schools and services that our children were receiving. I had a new friend! Though we had just met, I found that we related in so many ways! She commented, “It is so nice to meet someone that I don’t have to explain my son’s behavior to. You get it!” And I did “get it.”
To you parents who have kiddos on the autism spectrum, there are other parents out there that “get it.” You are not alone in your world that seems so different but so “normal for you.” Find the support groups in your area. If you don’t have one, start one. It is always fun to exchange stories with other moms and laugh or cry about the crazy things our kids do. For others, if you know a parent with a kid on the spectrum, be kind and understanding if you find us in front of a display for 30 minutes or if you see us with a tantrumming kid in the grocery store. We all have challenges! Some challenges are just more apparent than others. A little kindness goes a long way.
#autismsupportgroup #makingnewfriends #autism #kindness #stimming