Yesterday I wrote about my daughter's social graces--how she picks up new friends with ease and engages in the most wonderful imaginary play.
And here is the rest of the story, another big little thing that makes me truly happy:
Not only does Olivia bond so easily with the typical peers in her life, but she also seems to have a significant impact on the children in her life who are on the autism spectrum.
Olivia attends an inclusion preschool, the same preschool my autistic son attended for two years. Children with autism attend the school right alongside their typical peers. They receive behavioral therapy throughout the school day, and the typical peers provide an avenue for teachers to help children on the spectrum gain and improve social skills.
When my son attended this preschool, he had some extraordinary classmates who took it upon themselves to help him. Merci, Arianna, Lexi, Kendall, Laney, Sydney, Deja, Connor, Jack, Rory, and, most especially, Ethan.
They are remarkable children, and will, no doubt, grow into remarkable adults. If the world were filled only with such people .....
When my son attended this preschool, and I watched these children sharing with him, calling out to him to bring him into their world, throwing him balls, cheering his little accomplishments, hugging and dancing with him with enthusiasm in their eyes ....
I wanted to wrap them each in my own arms. I wanted to tell their parents how amazing their children are and what very special adults I know they will one day be.
So, I tried to meet them all. I told them how much I appreciated their beautiful children. I know my words could never convey the magnitude of my appreciation.
Today, I am the parent on the receiving end of such words.
I hear how Jacob talks about Olivia at home, even though he does not mention other children by name.
I hear how Camden loves to play games with Olivia, how Hunter likes to sit next to her at circle time, and how Emma likes to take her hand to dance.
And my dear friend Leslie told me how she watched her son Clark pick out Olivia's picture from his PECS book when he had the opportunity to pick out a reward. Olivia was his reward! He picked Olivia -- a PEER!!! -- out of any number of other fun things. How wonderful that it is my daughter--my emotional, dramatic, and sensitive but bossy little girl--that he wants to see and be with!
I notice how the typical peers respond to Olivia with such enthusiasm when she comes to school. And that is wonderful. But I also notice her classmates on the spectrum and how they actually stop to look at her when she walks in. They smile at the sight of her, and I know, as well as anyone, just how incredible that is.
It makes me happy.
And it makes me exceptionally PROUD.