This afternoon I carried Sawyer to the car without shoes, Parker and McKenna ran behind. I told them they didn’t need to grab their coats, just hurry, hurry, hurry. Ashlyn ran out with headphones dangling from one pocket, trying to stuff a cell phone into the other. A phone call two minutes prior had shot us into high gear.
The emergency? Someone Ashlyn’s age had called her, offered to pick her up and take her to the store. She was leaving in two minutes, as teenagers do, and could swing by my parents house if we were there. But we weren’t there, we were ten minutes away and she couldn’t risk missing the chance to be with girls her own age. I couldn’t risk it either because we never know when the opportunity will come again.
Since meeting a new soccer team in our area, Ashlyn has been to one practice, one game, one team dinner and thanks to today’s emergency exit, bopping around to several stores. Her social calendar hasn’t seen this much action in the last two years combined. Somehow (THANK GOODNESS) we’ve stumbled upon a group of sweet girls who keep Ashlyn in their mind before they head out the door. They’ve called her each day since meeting, inviting her somewhere new.
Ashlyn’s so happy and we’re so happy and please for the love of everything can this continue. She deserves a life outside of school and doctors and her family just like every other teen but I can’t create it for her. I’ve tried.
Today is the last day of April, the end of Autism Awareness Month, and how fitting to end on this note, this reminder of what we need.
We don’t need blue lights or puzzle piece magnets we need nice teenagers to give her a call. We need businesses to look around their office and think about what job she might be able to do. We need an independent living facility that understands autism but doesn’t cost more than our home. We need public transportation that is safe and a school program that believes in her.
There is a time for awareness and when it comes to autism, like many other causes, the time has passed. It’s time for looking next door and across the street and at that friend in your Facebook feed and figuring out what you can do, how you can help. It doesn’t take money, or hours of time or fabulous resources. Sometimes it just takes a phone call from one teenage girl to another, over the most ordinary of things, to turn life extraordinary.
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