Here’s the second part of an entry from Clay’s Mom – a look at the little guy’s new circle of friends.
It’s the night before Election Day, and I’m reminding Clay that he’ll be off from school the next day. I ask him what he wants to do, and he raises his hand to type on his iPad with no hesitation.
“can my friend michael come over? please call his mother”
I am gobsmacked at first.
Then, tears fill my eyes.
Clay has never asked to have anyone over to the house before.
And I, knowing that to meet Clay’s needs often requires taking the road less traveled by in our community, dry those tears by doing a happy dance.
Flash back to the month prior, when a handful of Moms from three different counties decided to create a way for our sons who type to communicate to hang out together. We agreed to start slowly with one gathering a month and dub it “Saturday Social”.
Mary, who operates her business in a house that’s about 45 minutes away, offered her place for the meet-up. In addition to offices, there’s a conference room and a cozy porch on the second floor and the third floor is set up as a work space for her Michael, who is home-schooled.
Clay enjoys being in the car, so the distance is not an issue. We pop in a favorite CD (today, he chooses a mix of Hawaiian music) and before we know it arrive to meet Michael, who is a year younger than Clay; Colin, whom we already know; and another boy named Michael, who is interested in exploring supported typing.
Clay is excited to meet up with his friends, but also completely overwhelmed. Between the four boys, their Moms and two therapists, the busy environment sends him into sensory overload.
He moves to an alcove where a treadmill is set up. I ask him to greet his friends.
“hello buddies get me out of here,” he types, and then bolts for the stairs. Clay spends much of the time in the second-floor bathroom, where it is small and quiet. I coax him upstairs a few times, but it’s clear he needs this first Saturday Social to acclimate.
“please let me be. my buddies and i are fine.”
For our second meet-up, we decide ahead of time to meet in the second-floor conference room. About 10 minutes before we arrive Clay begins getting agitated, so I know he has a headache. The wide swings in temperature and rain the previous day are wreaking havoc on his sinuses. After some Advil, a snack and some time to relax, he begins to feel better.
“hi buddies. how are you?” he types.
Clay then heads out to his bathroom sanctuary. During a quick check-in, he learns that Colin also has a headache. I remind him of the small sunny porch off Mary’s office, where an overstuffed chair and a small computer station were just the ticket.
Back in the conference room, Mary and Juliette (Colin’s Mom) ask the guys if they want to create a story.
Michael begins: “once everyone came here but didnt feel well were happy to see each other but hard to tell.”
“a sad day but so delighted to see my awesome new friends. my heart is happy that my mind is loving this. i no you hope that i will join you. but it is mmost overwhelming lots of noise.”
Colin responds: “Clay, we love you.”
We adults knew we were talking too much, but couldn’t help ourselves. We were just as excited to be together. After an hour-and-a-half, Clay and I pack up and head home.
The next day, I asked Clay what he thought about the Saturday Social.
“using my morning this good way is very nice. i like my new buddies.”
Can’t wait till next time.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
From “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost