When I get excited about something it seems as though everyone needs to hear about it. I can’t help myself, when I stumble across something magical-I need to get everyone else around me excited about it as well.
This week it’s been the Circle of Friends group at Falls City Middle School. A few weeks ago F.C. Public teacher Brenda Streit called me and asked if we could come to the school to cover a speaker they would be having during their Circle of Friends group. I told her I would be there, penciled it in and went on with my other work.
When Wednesday came around I realized I had not prepared at all. I didn’t take the time to research the group or Autism. I walked into that school knowing less about Autism than anyone who has passed through those doors ever has. I was instantly greeted by Mrs. Streit and was pulled in by her kindness and excitement. She explained a bit about the group and pointed me into the direction of one of the mom’s who was coming to talk to the class. I spoke with Sherry Huddleston for a while as we waited for lunch to end. She told me how they came to the autism diagnosis with her son Dallas. I was drawn in by her every word. She discussed the struggle she faced keeping him in school, then making the painful decision to pull him out to find a diagnosis.
I joined Sherry, Mrs. Streit and my former Dawson-Verdon second grade teacher Mrs. Fankhauser as we walked to the classroom. Three women sat in front of the class. Each with her own story, each ready to share how they had gotten here.
All three women were familiar to me. I knew their faces and their children’s faces. Some had been in the Journal office with their child and others I had seen around town. They introduced themselves and went right into the journey they had taken with their child. Wendy Vice spoke as her daughter sat to the left of me smiling at her mom. Carla Hayworth soon followed and shared her story while beaming at her son Nathaniel. Last to speak was Sherry Huddleston as shared her journey with her son Dallas, he scanned the room to make sure everyone was seeing his mom up there. He had told her earlier that he was so excited all the kids would get to see how awesome his mom was, and the pride was written all over his face.
Equal to the pride on Dallas’ face was the curiosity in each face of the volunteers. The middle school ‘friends’ who spent time with the children with social difficulties were there to learn and help. I scanned the room many times thinking about how I was never that eager to learn in middle school. Each of these kids were quiet, respectful and hanging on every word being said. These kids were and are wise beyond their years. They are showing a maturity and kindness that I don’t think I have at 31.
For a moment I got wrapped up in what was being shared. I sat my camera down and took the time to really listen to each of these mothers. I got an education. I learned more about autism and aspurgers than I thought I’d know. I walked out of that classroom both excited and proud of what is happening here in Falls City.
The rest of the week I read facts and stories from others around the country talking about how Circle of Friends has changed their lives. As a parent who often worries about my own child being bullied, I can’t imagine the fear and anxiety these parents have. To have a program and a group of kids who happily keep an eye out on your child is nothing short of magnificent.
I can’t begin to share my pride and excitement about this program. I hope all of the children who volunteer know that what they’re doing is awesome. Thank you for being a great friend to these equally as wonderful children who may need a friend right now. I hope you build life long relationships from this program. They’re lucky to have you, and you’re lucky to have them.
Great job guys!