Jackson Cook is one impressive 8-year old. He took a very brave step at the beginning of his school year at the Twin Cities German Immersion School, where he is in the third grade, by giving a speech about autism. You see, Jackson, nicknamed Jax, wanted his new class to understand why he’s easily frustrated or avoids eye contact – and why he needs extra help sometimes. So, with help from his mom, Jax wrote a heartfelt speech, which he read to his class. In it, he shared:
“Raise your hand if you know what autism is. Raise your hand if you know that I have autism. It makes some parts of my brain work really well and some parts of my brain work not very well. Doctors don’t know what makes some brains have autism and some brains not have it. I have it, but Charley doesn’t, even though he’s my twin brother.
Sometimes I need help learning things that other brains automatically know. Like my brain tells my body that it is not comfortable to look at someone in the face when they talk to me.
The autism in my brain is something that I like, and something that I don’t like, but it’s part of me, just like your brain is part of you.”
When asked about Jax’s speech, one of his classmates said, “I thought it was a good speech because it was really nice and really brave.”
The child birthday party invitation. It’s a little piece of paper in the mail – or an email to be opened – but it can be an immediate stress inducer. Stress was likely the feeling Tricia Rhynold would have when she opened invites from her son’s classmates. Tricia – mom to seven-year-old Timothy who has nonverbal autism – explains that they’ve received tons of invites over the years, which she appreciates, but she understandably wonders, “if the parents know what would happen if I brought Timothy? The interruptions…the meltdowns…how I would hate to take the spotlight from the birthday child.” So, she would respectfully decline every invite.
But that all changed with one simple note. Tricia received a party invite with a note from a mom of a child (Carter) in Timothy’s class – and she made it very clear that she truly wanted Timothy to come to the birthday party writing:
Carter sat beside Timothy at school and he always talks about him I really hope he can come. We are renting a bounce castle that we can attach a small bounce slide at the bottom. We will also have water balloons and water guns. Maybe Timothy can come earlier in the day if it would be too much with the whole class. Let me know so we can make it work.
There are a lot of amazing people in this world who are kind and understanding – we hope you’ve got some of them in your life. It’s hard to remember that kindness sometimes when you’re overwhelmed or maybe feeling a little stuck. In Tricia’s case, it took someone else – a complete stranger – to extend an offer with Timothy’s needs in mind that would make all the difference. As Tricia said on her blog, The Book of Timothy, “I don’t know this Mom or even this child personally. I want to. Desperately….The Mom is everything I strive to be.” Agree.