When you have a loved one with special needs, your family faces a lot of red tape. You meet people in governmental and private organizations that you swear exist for the sole purpose of making your life difficult.
However, as your loved one with special needs makes his journey through life, you will be surprised by the number of people you meet who genuinely care about your child/brother. People who go the extra mile to understand his quirks and make him feel comfortable, who take time out of their busy schedules to do something nice for him, who grow to care for him almost as much as you do.
These are the people who give me hope that Dude and people like him will get by in life just fine; and I am ever so thankful to them for that.
I could recount many stories of old therapists, respite providers, teachers, aides, etc. who have gone the extra mile for Dude. However, there is one story that is fresh in my mind.
Back story #1
As I have mentioned in the past, Dude attends a weekly therapeutic horseback riding session. As he walks and trots around the arena, there are volunteers stationed on either side of him to ensure his safety should he lose his balance and fall.
Back story #2
Lately, Dude has been extremely opinionated about what clothing he wears. He’s constantly going through his closet, picking out shirts, and hanging them up on his bureaus so that he can look at them. Like so:
He can get anxious when he wants a particular shirt, but can’t find it because it’s in the wash.
Back story #3
If I had to guess, I would say 90% of Dude’s t-shirts are either Maryland (my alma mater) shirts or Penn State (cousins’ alma mater) ones.
Dude-ism #100 (<– Woot woot!!!)
There is an older gentleman, who I’ll call Joe, who volunteers at the stables where Dude rides. We’re not entirely sure what his affiliation to Penn State is, but we’ve gathered that he is a Penn State fan. Joe always comments on Dude’s PSU shirts.
A couple weeks ago, Dude arrived home from his riding lesson, clutching a brand new “WE ARE.. PENN STATE” t-shirt.
Turns out Joe decided he wanted to add to Dude’s collection!!!
However, Joe was unaware of Dude’s fascination with t-shirts, and made the epic mistake of giving him the gift at the very beginning of his lesson.
Well.. Dude wanted no parts of his lesson after that. While grooming the horse, he kept getting distracted and looking at the shirt, which his aide was holding for him. When he got on the horse, he tried to turn full-around in the saddle so that the shirt was never out of his sight. The aide finally had to go and put the shirt in her car because it was such a source of distraction for Mr. Dude!
When he got home, Dude immediately requested that Mom put the shirt on a hanger. He then scurried upstairs to add it to his bureau collection.
I can’t say for sure, but I think Joe’s gift was very much appreciated