Being Wrong Never Felt so Good

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“I wonder if the parents are going to turn their car headlights on the field soon?” I thought as I stood, half turned, to watch Bobby’s soccer practice.  It was twilight, and the practice would continue for another forty minutes.

I had brought Declan up to the fields to play on the playground that stood near.  As I turned my gaze from the field to Declan, I saw pure joy.  He was running around the perimeter of the playground, making sounds and shaking his head back and forth.

I could tell he was very happy.

Seeing his contentment, I began the special needs mom activity of amusing oneself.  I must always be present and aware, but that does not mean I need to be bored.  I looked down to the wood edging encompassing the playground and began to walk the wood like a balance beam.

I heard the rolling bar slide squeak and looked up to see Declan’s eyes large and the smile deepen.  As he came to the end of the slide he sat for a second and laughed.  Declan jumped up, shook his head and ran to go down the slide again.

As Declan ran I saw two shadows standing in the distance.  Two boys came into view, both wearing hooded sweatshirts.  One boy was carrying a half-filled water bottle, no doubt to practice his water bottle flip.  The boys appeared to be about 8 or 9 years old.

Their red cheeks and heavy breathing made it seem they had been at the playground before and had left to spend some time running around the entire park.  They came to a halt when they returned to see the playground had some new people playing.

Declan saw the boys and in his joy, he ran over to them and ran around them laughing.  Not one to say, “Hi!” Declan hit one boy on the arm, laughed and ran away.

It is very selfish of me to say; the empty playground is my favorite playground.  Declan is free to be himself.  I do not need to protect him from others.  I do not need to protect others from him.  I do not need to explain to anyone.

So when I saw the one boy lean in and cover his mouth to whisper to the other boy, I got nervous.  They had figured it out.  “Something is off with that kid.”

I continued my trek around the boards, although my vigilance doubled.  The boys entered the playground area and began to flip their bottle.  Declan continued to run around the playground, go down the rolling bar slide and run to the boys.  Everyone seemed to be laughing and enjoying their own ventures on the playground. Until the rotation changed.

I heard some talking when I turned the board corner and looked to see Declan had the bottle.  He was flipping it wildly – pretty much chucking the bottle across the play area.  The boys ran with him to retrieve the bottle, but Declan got to it first and threw it again.  And again.  The boys were talking each time they followed him to the new bottle location.  Finally, when the bottle landed for the fifth time and the boys just followed Declan to the bottle, I intervened.

“Declan, give the bottle back to the boys so they can play, too!”

“Oh, that’s okay,” one boy said to me, “We gave it to him to play.”

“Are you sure?” I asked.


And as Declan threw the bottle again, I heard what the boys were saying to him.

“You almost landed it!  Great job – here, try again!”

And my heart melted.

I had been wrong.  And it felt so good.

I have seen a child whisper to another child before about Declan.  I have seen them point.  I have seen them laugh.  I have seen them shrug and leave.

None of this has ever phased Declan.  But it has always hurt me.

And before I gave these boys a chance, I assumed their compliance was because they didn’t know what to do or say.  I assumed once their bottle was returned to them they would leave to whisper negative or disparaging remarks to one another about their experience with Declan.

Instead they were promoting interaction.  They went out of their way to include Declan in their activity.  And they used kind words to make Declan FEEL GOOD.

The sun did set and we all left for our cars.  The soccer practice ended, and soccer players hopped into cars with the headlights already on.  And as I looked in my rearview mirror as we drove away, I saw my smile matched that of a little boy in the backseat.

We just had the BEST playground experience.


39 thoughts on “Being Wrong Never Felt so Good

  1. I am about to cry. There are some good kids out there. I must admit that some of the kids at Samuel’s school are good with him. He stands out because he is different as well as being a red head! Glad you had a great playground experience. It gives you a bit of a lift.

    1. It was so good to see these kids go out of there way to interact with Declan and include him. Definitely a feel good moment that I will always remember.

  2. My experience is that kids are much more understanding now than when I was a kid. I think some of the tolerance training that they get in school has stuck. BTW – That waterbottle game just about drives me nute.

    1. I think kids are nicer too. Way more tolerant. When kids point at Declan, they do not call him names, they just leave – which I prefer way more to the name calling. Me too! It has been banned in this house. If the kids really want to play it, they have to go outside or sit in the garage. It drives me crazy listening to the constant thump of the bottle.

  3. So awesome! The school that Ben goes to now has the autism class do some art/science/music classes with the mainstream kids & I think it’s great for all the kids. I always prefer an empty playground too. When he was 4 a bunch of girls trapped & hit him. I had to climb inside a structure to get him away. Their parents?? No idea…😤

    1. That is awesome about Ben’s school! I think that must be great for everyone! Ugh – that’s a tough story about the 4 girls. Declan got cornered once in a playhouse by a little boy. Declan was scared and cowering – and the fire deep in my belly was hard to tame to get him out. I guess some kids just don’t understand. Yet.

  4. Miracles REALLY Do happen! Occasionally we are blessed to be included in them. Came across an eye opening post about an autistic girl (now woman) and her discriptions of what it feels like to be autistic opened my eyes. It explains exactly how her body interperst daily sensory feelings like sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, you get the idea.

    When she makes eye contact it actually feels like the eyes actually touch. Looking away after the contact leaves her eyes feeling sticky. Check out my post here

    1. That is exactly how I felt on the playground – I was so happily surprised to be wrong. Those boys really taught me a lesson 🙂

  5. That’s awesome! It’s hard when they are teens. My baby just turned 18 and now she’s expected to be normal. I keep getting asked about college. I think most people hear HFA and think “genius”. Nope. I don’t have one of those in my house. It is surprising to me when people care. Most people I know either look down on my child or at me because I homeschool or they just ignore us. Once in awhile, we get someone who blows us away with kindness. It’s a sweet thing to experience because of all the crappy moments we have with others.

    1. The stereotypes can be very frustrating. Our Pediatrician even asked me if my kids were savants since they were on the spectrum. He is older and using his textbook knowledge of autism. No – they are very special people but not savants. There are frustrating areas all around, and I agree – it is so great to see or experience those awesome acts of kindness!

      1. Yes, there is still a lot of generalizations and myths about autism. I still don’t always understand it either. For instance, my daughter is high functioning but she doesn’t display some of the traits of autism. She gets humor. She has empathy (although not as obvious as my other kids), she gets facial expressions and she doesn’t throw a giant fit when plans change. However, she still has other traits like transitioning off her computer to do other things is difficult, her social skills are not good, and she falls behind academically. It’s difficult when we visit people and they just think she’s “weird” instead of all the times I’ve said she has autism. They don’t understand the limitations and the difficulties. But then we do have people that get it and that’s really great to have those kinds of people in your corner. And it’s good for them to have positive experiences. So much focus is on their disability that i think we sometimes forget they just want to be like everyone else–to do things and not have comments made about their lack. It’s something I’ve been struggling with because we are going through a bunch of appointments and I’m feeling really sad for my daughter who is only hearing the “bad” stuff and none of the good. I’m hoping she doesn’t think she is damaged–that’s the message I never want to send. Unfortunately with all these appointments, that is what she is hearing to an extent–that her scores are low in these areas and she has deficits and she’s behind. It’s very hard sometimes to deal with, but I have to try to put some balance into that so she knows she’s a bright, talented young lady with a bright future ahead of her. Sorry for my long comment. It’s nice to chat with someone else about this stuff!

        1. It must be very hard for her to hear those things and understand them. I am blessed right now that my kids don’t understand what is being said about them. Or if they do, it does not affect them. I definitely feel that people do not understand the challenges that Cate must face because she is so high functioning. But I know. Declan too – I get frustrated because if someone can’t SEE the autism – with flapping hands or toe walking like behaviors – then he is fine. It’s tough! Definitely nice to find those people that arent looking for the details and just accept the kids for being themselves!

  6. Awesome! Yes, at school the kids learn so much at inclusion times. They become their teacher and equally protective. The others are like sponges and know the lines that work so well, that as a sub, I have learned by listening to the ‘teachers voice’ through the children’s interactions. They will even tell me what works or explain the students mannerisms discretely.

  7. How beautiful! I think it takes a while for children to start discriminating, it’s usually learnt from their own family and they tend to take it on at about 12yo plus.

    1. Thank you! Yes, it was so nice to see those boys include Declan. I was used to seeing the opposite, so I was definitely overwhelmed with happiness 🙂

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