She is 7—kinder, wiser, and more compassionate than most. She is the person I aspire to be.
Since William was a baby (and possibly before), she has asked to visit Disney World. We said maybe when you’re 7. He’ll be 3…it’ll be perfect. You’ll both be at great ages for all the parks. But, by the time he was 3, we knew that Disney World would not be a magical place for him. And for his sister—well, the Disney princesses came and went. We found and lost Nemo. And, as the months of her 7th year passed, we realized she had stopped asking. For Disney.. or anywhere that resembled a “traditional” family vacation. And all this without pity. That’s why it was especially sweet when I told her that I was taking her for 5 days on a girls trip to Disney! We did it just before Thanksgiving, and there was magic. It was special and fun and carefree…and painful. She commented frequently on what might frighten her brother, what he might like, things he would find funny, things that would be too difficult, and so on. He was never out of mind for her… or for me.
On our last day, I saw a mother with her teenage son. She looked tired, and he looked reluctant. He was wearing earphones. Not the ear buds a teen boy might wear to listen to JayZ but thick, full-sized earphones. We were waiting in line for Goofy’s Barnstormer. I asked, Do they help? giving a nod toward her son and attempting a smile that might suggest I get it. She smiled a Mom’s knowing smile and said I think so. It helps with the noise. We stormed the barn in tandem, and my daughter and I endured her son’s screaming I wanna go home. I wanna go home. I wanna go home over and over until it ended. We stopped for some Toontown ice cream, and my daughter, fighting her own tears, said That boy reminded me of William. We shared a healthy cry into our fudge Sundays and agreed that we wanted to go home, too. She added, Mommy, Disney World isn’t ready for autism. It’s not but maybe someday he’ll be ready for it.