For parents of children with learning disabilities and other special needs, trying to make sure their kid is included in things like after-school activities and play dates can be incredibly difficult.
Tricia Rhynold knows this all too well. Her 7-year-old son, Timothy, has severe autism spectrum disorder, and as a result can sometimes find it hard to make friends or be included in the typical activities that take place at birthday parties and other fun bonding events.
Rhynold explained that she sometimes dreaded birthday parties—not just because she wasn’t sure how her son would react to the noise, the energy, and the unpredictability, but because oftentimes children with adaptive needs get left out of those activities altogether.
“We parents of children with special needs know only too well the hurt our kids feel when they are left out of the social gatherings,” she wrote.
Happy world autism awareness month everyone! <3
“I can say whole-heartedly that my son has not attended a single one. We have received countless invitations in the past few years, but mostly by kids who mercilessly invite the entire class. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful.
“But I wonder 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.”
That changed, though, when one of Timothy’s classmates sent him home with an invitation for a birthday party that said something a little different.
“Carter sat beside Timothy at school and he always talks about him,” said a note on the back of the invite.
Dear (Super Cool) Mom,You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but my son, Timothy, sometimes sits beside your son at…
“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 balloon’s and water guns. Maybe Timothy can come earlier in the day if it would be too much with the whole class. Let me know how we can make it work.”
The note caused Rhynold to burst into tears. Although it was from a parent that she didn’t yet know, it showed that there was an effort being made to include her son even though he may not have the easiest time at a traditional birthday party. The offer to attach a slide at the bottom and the suggestion that Timothy could come to the party before everyone else to keep him from getting overwhelmed were signs that another parent was taking some of the burden off of Rhynold herself to make things easier—and that made all the difference in the world.
“You wrote exactly what I needed to see that day and didn’t even know it,” she explained, penning an open letter to the other mother.
Because of your son he is included.
Because of your son he feels wanted.
Because of your son he has a voice.
The touched mom told Metro.co.uk: “I am so very grateful and touched that someone went out of their way to include Timothy in their own child’s special day. It was unexpected but unbelievably special to receive the invite.”
She further added, “Sometimes we become so wrapped up in our own needs that we are unaware of others….it restored my faith in humanity.”
It’s that kind of effort, she explained, that makes it easier to get through the more difficult days and look ahead to what could be a brighter future for her own son.
You never know whose day you’re about to light up, so keep spreading the goodness by doing these precious little random of acts of kindness.