You never know where you will meet someone in your tribe. Most recently for me, it was at a park in West Philadelphia (Cue Fresh Prince theme song).
My son and I had wandered over to the playground while my father and a friend of his mentored young boys on the basketball court. The little boy already there was standing high on the equipment, while his father looked on carefully but not too close. “Oh look,” I said to my son, “someone to play with.” The little boy, Alex, was already heading down the slide as my son began his climb up the stairs. We watched our boys for a minute and exchanged pleasantries and typical parent questions like “How old is your son?” Mine is 3 and will be 4 later in the year; his had turned 4 this January. As I watched the little boy and listened to him, I knew. I knew before the father even told me that this was a boy that I could teach. The father began to tell me how he likes to bring Alex to the park so that he can work on his social skills and language skills. For a special education teacher those were code words for autism. As the conversation progressed, Alex’s dad ended up telling me that Alex was diagnosed only this year.
The episode made me think how awesome it was that Alex’s parents were confronting this problem early. While some debate if children should begin formal education early, there is no question that early intervention is better when it comes to confronting delays. At 4, Alex is already receiving speech therapy and occupational therapy. Although there will be challenges ahead, there is no question that Alex’s chance for improvement will have been greatly increased because his parents began seeking help early. Navigating your child’s educational options is difficult, especially if that child has special needs. However, the earlier you seek assistance the better the outcome will be for your family in the future.
Christina Hayes Miller is an educator and blogger. She lives in South Fulton with her husband and son.