A child told me I was on the autism spectrum. A child who was on the spectrum herself; just not at the same spot. A child told me without saying one word since it’s not possible yet for her to hold up her end of a conversation. A child told me by just doing what she normally does — talking and pacing in a world of her own imagination. I had been there, done that, and I still do. That was the lightbulb moment that set me down the path of discovery.
Months after this discovery, there was a tender moment with just the two of us. I was subbing for the teacher’s assistant and escorted her to gym class. She goes to her favorite corner in the gym. Since I was in idle mode, I retreated into my own imaginary world for a brief moment. I felt a jolt as I came back to earth. I looked over and she was in her imaginary world looking up at the ceiling and swirling her head from side to side.
As we both stood against the gym wall watching the 100-something students playing various games, I asked her with a chuckle, “What do you think about people who aren’t normal like us?” I wasn’t expecting an answer but I was surprised when she leaned her head on my shoulder. Then, she gave me a hug. It was a golden moment between just the two of us.