One of my best childhood memories was having fun with my cousins attending the weddings of family members. For my son Christopher with autism, this experience was not the same because of the fear that there would be a scene.
Even my friends’ families excluded him from attending functions for fear of behavior. There was always a specific reason when Christopher got upset – it was never without cause, so I often wondered how we would ever know what his behavior might be like at a wedding event where he was surrounded by people he loved with music and dancing.
But it was not to be until an amazing young woman by the name of Lynn Hartigan who runs an ABA company called “The Center for Growth and Development” in Wilton, Connecticut was getting married. She chose a beautiful setting in Block Island in Rhode Island where a high-speed catamaran takes you there. She not only invited my son, but many of the kids in her agency with autism and other disabilities regardless of their issues. She even included some in her wedding party.
The party started on the hour boat ride, which for many of the kids was their first time. It was a rocky ride, but incredible fun for the parents too who bonded over the experience. The wedding took place at a beautiful ocean front hotel for a magical weekend where there were no rude looks, complaints or judgements on our parenting. And it was an AMAZING weekend! Bright sunshine and the smell of turnovers. Our kids were all pretty great and everyone had a blast. There were so many firsts – Christopher even rode on a moped with me to tour the beautiful island. Our lives, and that of many of the families who attended this magical event, were changed that weekend. And yes there were some scary moments when my fearless son decided to climb to the roof of this three story hotel to get a more interesting view but no one was surprised, appalled or called the police – we calmly got him down and life went on.
I’m happy to say that as my son has grown he has attended many formal events with no issues, including his senior prom. I am sad to report that my friends still don’t invite my son to their formal events, but I’m happy to say we are attending another wedding for my son’s therapist next week and I’m not in the least bit worried about his behavior.
This one act of kindness changed the lives of so many families that day. I often wonder if the bride, who so graciously shared her special day by making our kids and their families feel special, knows just how amazing she is!!!