There are moments in my professional journey that I will never forget. I was sitting in my office, enjoying the company of a little boy, who had been diagnosed with autism and his lovely parents. The purpose of the chat was to collaboratively develop goals that would reflect this child’s intensive intervention plan.
The parents discussed their child’s self- help skills, motor skills, play skills, social skills and communication abilities. Then, that ‘forever to be remembered’ moment happened. The father, who was lovingly holding their little boy, went silent. I thought I saw a tear roll down his cheek, so I just waited for him to continue. In a shaky voice, one that reflects an attempt to dam a surge of emotion, he spoke. “I really don’t care about any of these things. I just want my little boy back.” He continued to explain that his little boy commonly interacted with him and his wife in play activities and laughter. Over the course of a few months though, his little boy changed, which in time was diagnosed with autism. “So”, he continued, “I don’t care about academics or motor skills, I just want my child back!”
I then became the one attempting to contain a surge of emotion. The picture of this loving father cradling his son, his wife at his side, making a request that represents the very basic desire of every parent, caught me off-guard. When I regained my composure, I simply wrote the primary objective for our intervention team, as spoken by the dad, and closed my file.
On his graduation day at Stepping Stones, once again, tears flowed! Standing before me was this little boy with a bouquet of flowers. I smiled and winked at his parents acknowledging that, ‘he came back!’