It’s a Gift

autism smiley-faceLast night, I was reminded of something I so often forget (or at least lately I do).  I was reminded how funny CJ is.  I was reminded how happy he can make the people around him.

We went to a graduation party for one of his friends.  This young man is “typical” and everyone there was “typical.”  Yet most of the people there knew CJ, or at least knew of him.  They were all very nice and as I watched, I realized they were genuinely happy to meet him.

He was not crazy about the more crowded area towards the back of the house where everyone was congregating.  So he positioned himself at the front window.  He would look out between the blinds and then, as people walked up to the door, he would jump up to greet them.  “Come on in!” he would say over and over.  “Come on in!”  Every single person walked in with a smile on their face.  Someone commented on it to me.  She was smiling…thought it was great…and all of a sudden, I had a flash of something that happens every time we go out of the house.

Think Walmart or Sam’s Club.  Now, think Walmart or Sam’s Club on a Saturday.  Uh huh.  Exactly.  Most people coming out of either place on a Saturday are not happy about it.  They don’t want to be there.  People sort of trudge out of the store looking grim, looking harassed, looking down frowning or hurrying straight ahead, trying to get to the car before their toddler goes head first out of the cart.  One friend I have says she hits Walmart like a surgical strike, with a goal to beat her last best time getting in and getting out.  Everyone knows that you only go to Sam’s or Walmart or any big store on a Saturday if you have no other choice.

And then here comes CJ.  We will walk into Sam’s or Walmart on any given Saturday.  As we walk in, CJ always greets each person he sees…every one of them.  “You have a great day!”  “See you!”  “You have a great day!”  He has a huge smile, and will at these moments often look directly at people.  Remember, he’s nearly 18 and he’s six feet tall now.  People’s are usually startled for a moment, but then their reactions are almost always positive.  When they see him smiling and talking to them, they can’t help but smile back.

And he had everyone at the party last night smiling.  The other mother and I were remarking that a kid being cute is often the thing that keeps a parent from reacting in an “inappropriate” manner.  I have a vivid memory of him at a young age.  I don’t remember why, but I was so mad at him.  I was speaking in a loud tone of voice (insert “screaming in frustration” here).  He just looked at me and then he grinned that huge grin of his.  I couldn’t help it.  I started laughing and then so did he.  And once CJ laughs –  everyone laughs.  You just can’t help it.  I finally looked at him, and in between cracking up with laughter I said, “You are still in trouble!”

Well, sort of….

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