Last night was probably the most enjoyable Halloween I’ve had in a long time. If not, of all time. And yet surprisingly it had nothing to do with the near 50 pieces of candy I ate, the fact that we got let out of work early nor was it the overall time spent trick-or-teating with the now 6-year old twins.
As a matter of fact, there are reasons I could probably use to argue that it started out as a frustrating night of trick-or-treating with the boys; one that I couldn’t wait to end.But it was the time spent after the costumes were taken off, when it became my turn to hand out the candy, that the night became special. It was about a 6-year autistic boy who just wanted to spend some time with his daddy.
And while I hate to use the term “autistic” with this story, I think it’s relevant. I think it’s important to note that thinking beyond himself doesn’t always come easy. Some would consider this as being selfish, it’s not. He’s self-focused and there’s a difference. Matt tends to live in the moment and for so long, he wouldn’t – or perhaps couldn’t – allow others to live those moments with him.
More and more, however, he’s allowing the rest of us into his world. It’s still HIS world, mind you, but he continues to open the window a little bit more and all I can say is “Wow!”. I love his mind, love his attitude and love his spirit.
In no particular order, here’s how the night went with my son…
- Knowing that Dots are my favorite candy – and after finding a box in his own bag – he immediately came outside to share them with me.
- Then without being prompted he went off to retrieved his little folding chair and chose to sit outside with me as opposed to playing inside with his twin brother and their friend.
- He did the robot-dance in the driveway upon seeing a kid in a robot costume.
- He insisted that other kids say “trick-or-treat” before handing out the candy and loudly answered “You’re welcome!” to every “Thank you” he heard.
- He engaged the other kids by asking them about their costumes.
- When a group of kids dressed as clowns approached the house, he stood up, held both arms in the air and said “Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls!”
- He did his own transformer version of “gangnam style” while singing at the top of his lungs.
- He asked me how my day was.
- And in the most hilarious moment of the night, just after handing out snack-sized Snickers bars to a group of about six kids, he lifted his leg and immediately proclaimed “Excuse me when I toot!” (We all had a good laugh at that one.)
And what not one person who came to the door could ever imagine that as little as a year ago, he probably doesn’t do any of this. That just a year ago, many of these actions would’ve been difficult for him.
He still needs the occasional prompt. Sometimes I think he still needs the right visual cue to help him make the right decisions. Then again, I’m not really sure anymore. He’s constantly doing the right thing and doing them all on his own accord.
Earlier he simply said “Thank you” after getting some candy. The man looked up to me and said that was the first “thank you” he had received all night.
Though now that I think about it, I think last night was more about the culmination – perhaps even some vindication – of a lot work by a lot of people who never gave up on my son. There have always been so many people who believed that young Matt could be more than just a label. Had they witnessed his actions, I’ve no doubt they’d be just as proud as I am now.
To all of you: thank you. There was truly a time when I wondered if such father-son moments were possible. But because of you, they’ve now become the norm…