All parents are proud of their children for many reasons and we often have moments where we are particularly proud of something they have achieved. Some of these achievements are big and others small. At times in our family we celebrate and are proud of achievements which may seem small to others. J’s autism and global developmental delay mean that he doesn’t achieve ‘regular’ milestones and can’t always do what others his age are able to.
J finds many things difficult. He can’t always follow rules or instructions, has very little awareness of danger or of other people, he doesn’t always understand what people are saying to him and he is still mostly non-verbal. These things present challenges for him every day. He needs to find alternative ways to communicate, to do tasks, to get through the host of things he comes up against just in normal day-to-day life. We are so proud of the effort he puts in and the resilience he shows in keeping trying even when it’s hard.
Each year his school put on a Nativity performance. Every child in the school takes part in some way, at their own level and suited to their needs and ability. Each time I am amazed at what everyone achieves. The staff work so hard, as do the children, to make it all possible. The children are supported to take part and the staff have aspirational expectations for them. The energy in the school is evident in the performance they give.
Normally J has a costume of some kind on and sits or stands on stage with the others. Often he just looks around and listens to the others as they sing, sometimes joining in with noises in tune to the song. This year he completely blew me away. He was dressed as a king when he came on stage. I assumed he would just be doing the sane old thing. However, this year he had a line to say. For a virtually non-verbal child that is no easy feat. His line probably should have been ‘I bring you gold’ but all he said was ‘gold’. Still, that one word was amazing to hear. The fact that he said it at all, never mind into a microphone on a stage in front of a large audience. I could have burst with pride. I’m not a gushy or overly emotional person but it was enough to bring tears to my eyes.
I can’t thank his teacher, assistants and the other staff in the school enough. They all go above and beyond to provide such amazing opportunities for the children. They help them to achieve so much. The school is such a positive, friendly, lively place where children are truly supported to be all they can be and pushed to challenge themselves and learn new things. So, thank you to all of them for helping my boy to make his stage debut and for consoling him when he realised he couldn’t just leave the stage and sit with us afterwards!