Last weekend, a friend invited us over for a family party. This friend is so accepting of Rachel’s autism issues that I didn’t think twice about going.

While there, Rachel parked herself at the top of a slide, which was fine until two other children climbed up there with her. From across the yard, I could see things were about to go poorly because Rachel wasn’t moving from her perch. Before I could get there, one of them pushed Rachel down the slide.

My inner mother bear growled, but I held her back and instead talked to the kids. I told them if they had an issue with Rachel to come to me or her sister. Then I explained that Rachel’s mind doesn’t work the same way other people’s do. I remembered a good piece of advice from a class Brandon and I took for parenting special needs children. Think of TV with poor picture quality or the static that comes through when the radio isn’t tuned properly. That’s the way Rachel’s brain interprets information.

The kids stared at me with big eyes and nodded. I may have released some of my inner bear without meaning to, but a few minutes later, I told their mom about the incident. I didn’t say, “Hey, your kids pushed mine,” because that would have been rude and counterproductive, and it happens. Instead, I told her that I tried to explain Rachel’s autism to her children. Because I just talked to the mom, who was new to the area, she called her son over, and we discussed autism a little more. She even reminded him of a former neighbor who had autism. It was a really positive conversation. And the best part was that the kids spent the rest of the evening trying to help Rachel.

I’m glad I had the courage to talk to both the kids and their mom, and I’m really glad I didn’t get upset. I hope for more interactions like that one in the future.

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