I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about Joey and the impact Autism has on his life. Joey is a really special kid because he has always been sensitive to others wants and needs. He once again demonstrated how big his heart when I suggested that he volunteer at an Autism camp this summer. When I first discussed it with him, he said, “Yes,” without hesitation. One of the requirements for applying as a volunteer was a letter of recommendation from a teacher and here is what she said about him:
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing to recommend Joseph to be a volunteer at your camp this summer. Joe is very motivated and a hard worker in class. He is always striving to learn and help peers who may struggle with concepts. Joe is also very sensitive to our special needs students and has often been the most reliable helper with these students. He has a high level of patience and ability to support these students to help avoid conflict. I have confidence that Joe would be a great addition to your summer program.
This letter brought tears of joy to my eyes. He has demonstrated patience and sensitivity to Debbie and now he is applying them so he can help and support others. By leading by example, Joey will shift people from being aware of those who have differing abilities to accepting and understanding them.
As Vince and I grow older, Joey will naturally step in to help Debbie. He has already told us that when she goes to middle school, he is willing to get her off the bus and take care of her until we get home from work. That one simple gesture demonstrates his caring and compassion. Although we declined his offer, we told him how proud of him we are. He steps up and supports anyone who needs assistance and does so genuinely.
I am willing to bet that many kiddos who have brothers and sisters with special needs are just like Joey. These kiddos are our Unsung Heroes who need to be recognized for their important roles and contributions to our families. They are truly gifted and amazing people and they are going to change the world!