autism · Casey

The Thousand Word Picture

I can’t even begin to tell you the things that I worried about when Casey was diagnosed. I worried about all of the things he wouldn’t do. I mourned those things. And, like it is with a lot of the things we worry about, lots of those things have happened and will still happen.
Casey turned 8 on New Year’s Day. I didn’t know if he’d be able to handle Scouts. It is right after school- during his rage period- the time of the day that he blows off steam from working so hard to be good all day. And, quite honestly, I didn’t know if I wanted to handle Scouts with him. I figured it would just be another work in frustration that would leave us sitting in a car in the parking while I cried and he screamed (that was basketball and soccer and church and…). I was wrong. Casey is a great Cub Scout. He loves it.

As soon as he got his Pinewood Derby kit he knew exactly what he wanted to make- a Titanic Boat, of course. He designed it, helped cut it out, sand it, paint it, etc. It was awesome. And it was SLOW.
That was another thing that looked as though it was going downhill fast. Carter’s basketball game was the same time as the Pinewood Derby so Lance dropped us off and then came back and picked us up after the game (and while the Pinewood Derby was still going on). Carter was crying because they lost the game and he had hurt his ribs (but mostly because they had lost the game) and Casey was crying because he hadn’t won anything. I figured the night was a loss. We went back for the last part of the Pinewood Derby. Casey’s car ran three more times. Took fourth every time. Casey turned to us and said, “Well, this is all terribly disappointing.”

The noise of the microphone was hard on him, along with the rumble of the kids running around the gym. I took him out to the foyer to give him a break. I thought we’d end up sitting the rest of the night in the car. He stood for a second, took a deep, shaky, breath in and then walked back into the room.  It was award time. He didn’t think he’d win an award (but in Scouts, everyone gets an award).

They announced the big winners. The little winners. Then they started handing out the individual awards. Casey looked as though he was catching on. Everyone got a special award. So was no one really special? His name was called and he walked up and took his award. He didn’t turn around right away. I thought he was sad. My heart skipped a beat… and then this…

he turned around quickly and threw both of his hands in the air. And everyone cheered! He was so happy! And so was I.

This picture is worth much more than a thousand words. It shows how far Casey has come, despite the doubts of his mother. It shows the support of the people in his life. Look at his cute Scout Master (who actually was my brother in law, Logan’s MTC mission companion, small world, yes?)! He’s as excited as Casey!  And this happens all over. People rally around Casey.  They get excited for him. They want to understand him. They want to help him. But what’s more, they genuinely want to be his friend.

Casey has more confidence this year than he ever has had before. A huge portion of that has to do with being in a mainstreamed class this year. He has Mr. K, the teacher every student wants. The cool teacher. Mr. K has used his “coolness” to make Casey the cool kid (kind of like ANY teeny bopper movie where the cool kid makes the not so cool kid cool by hanging out with him).  Casey told Mr. K that he was going to be an angry bird for Halloween, so Mr. K dressed up as one, too. Casey is obsessed with the metamorphosis of caterpillars and silkworms, so Mr. K bought a set of silkworms to have in the classroom for all of the kids to watch.  He’s created an environment in his classroom where the typical students are super protective and loving to the special kids. He teaches Casey funny little sayings and cool handshakes. He has shown Casey’s peers how funny Casey is. How interesting he is. And how Casey just wants what the rest of us do, to be accepted for who he is. I will forever be grateful for that. 

So back to the Pinewood Derby. To some parents there, it was probably just another night. Not for us. For us it was again, another high point in a life that I was originally so worried about. I’m still worried about many, many things. But not as worried.

12 thoughts on “The Thousand Word Picture

  1. Awesome story! Side note: So I found your blog thru Adrienne's when you did your post on Abby's twin. Just realized, you are the "funny Lexi" (that's the nickname in my head I gave you after reading some of your convo's with Melissa McKrola) from fb.

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  2. "this is all terribly dissappointing." LOVE. Patrick started scouting this year, in a traditional pack. In his case the timing is crappy cause it's at bedtime so I wish he could have scouts right after school.Also Casey's teacher sounds like a gem. I'm so happy for him.

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  3. That picture is the absolute greatest! The joy on his face is priceless. I love this, and I love that he loves Cub Scouts. And I ADORE his teacher. What an awesome guy!

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