The other day we went out for a Father’s Day brunch at one of our local shopping mall restaurants. Most of the parishioners from our church go for breakfast there after the 9:00 am mass we all attend. Michael loves this mall. There is a Bulk Barn there, a Dollarama and many other beautiful little stores that he loves to look at when we go on the weekends. So there we were, treating Dad to a Father’s Dad brunch out when we were joined by some lovely people from our church. What ensued, besides delicious food, were great conversations between Michael and these parishioners that he has gotten to know over nine years ago since he started attending mass with us. I have often said that we are blessed with many ‘second’ families in our community. Other than a community organization for special needs families, Michael’s school, our other second family is our church. They embraced me as a new parishioner, my husband and then our son before and after his autism diagnosis. They are open, accepting, loving and welcoming in all they do, and, not surprisingly, I have learned there are other special needs families in the parish who feel the same way. We are blessed to have found them as is Michael.
Watching Michael grow in the way he interacts with the other parishioners he knows from catechism (and those he does not), is endearing. I love how he is open, talkative and excited to share his life with them. One of the catechism teachers who sat with us knows him well. She began showing him pictures of where she went on vacation, her grandchildren and other such details which she knew would interest him. She also told him where she lived, (prompted by Michael, asking of course). I know what he will be mapping out in the next few days and where. 🙂 I feel so privileged for our family, that we are excepted and embraced by such a wonderful community. And I know that they are all impressed with Michael. They have known him since babyhood, and have seen the amazing changes, the growth that has taken place. And when we had to briefly step away from church they understood. This church, like Michael, brought me back to myself, to who I am inside. I will be forever thankful for the transformation of this community accepting us as our special needs community does.
Exceptional Parents, do you and your Exceptional Children have your community? Whatever community and wherever it is, make sure you and your child feel comfortable being yourselves, being true to who you are, and that you can feel like you can contribute something to them in return. Michael looks forward to doing his catechism, I look forward to helping out in future in the church now that he is older, and Dad, well, he is so touched to be loved and embraced by this community as he is by our special needs community. Good luck, and remember, don’t be afraid to reach out to people. Until next time.