This is your first week of kindergarten. You are nervous and excited. You are getting into a new routine and meeting new friends. One of those new friends is my boy. He comes into your class only for a half hour each day because being in there all day would be too much for him. He goes to recess with you, but he has a grownup right there with him because sometimes he tries to run away and he doesn’t always understand playground rules.
When I saw the two of you holding hands today, my eyes filled with tears and my heart filled with joy. I know you don’t understand why it means so much to me that my son has a friend. I know you are happy to play with a boy who is filled with life and laughter. I won’t say thank you for being his friend, because I know you like him for him and not to get a pat on the back.
Hollywood star Channing Tatum was interviewed by Carly Fleischmann, a reporter with autism, and the video soon went viral. Article continues after this video.
I do have a favor to ask you, though. Right now your days are filled with story time, play time and crafts and you both do pretty well side by side. But, you see, my son has autism and I know there will come a time when you will start to notice his differences.
You’ll notice the holes in every shirt he has because when he’s anxious he chews on his collar. You’ll notice he runs back and forth and flaps his hands when he’s excited. You may start to notice he often talks a little too loudly. You will start to wonder why he covers his ears when he’s surrounded by people. You will start to notice the stares from other kids when he gets upset about seemingly little things.
You will notice he often asks the same question over and over again. You will see he often gets stuck on a subject and can't always move on to talk about something else. You will start to wonder why he rides a different bus or why he spends so much time in another classroom. You will notice he does different school work and he can't ride a bike. You will hear other kids making fun of him. You will then realize he doesn't understand they're mocking him. These epiphanies won't hit you all at once, but I know they're coming just the same.
For today, I am going to hold onto and cherish the image of the two of you holding hands, blissfully unaware of your differences. But as time goes by and you start to notice, I ask with all my heart that you don't let go.