As my son arrived home with a birthday party invitation, my emotions overwhelmed me as tears welled up in my eyes after reading its contents.

Timothy, a 7 years old boy with severe autism spectrum disorder, wholeheartedly loves to play. However, he requires substantial additional support at school and occasionally appears completely unaware of what’s happening around him.

To the amazing mom who did something wonderful for my autistic son,

Although we are strangers to each other, our paths crossed as our sons, Timothy and your boy, occasionally sit together at school.

Our autistic son desires friendships, yet he struggles with knowing how to initiate them. He longs to engage in play but finds it challenging to express his desire. Inclusion is something he yearns for, yet understanding how to achieve it can be difficult for him.

As parents of children with special needs, we are acutely aware of the pain our kids experience when they are excluded from social gatherings.

Structured sports, play dates, overnight stays, and of course, the anxiety-inducing birthday celebrations.

Without a doubt, I can affirm that my son hasn’t participated in any of these activities. Over the past few years, we’ve received numerous invitations, but they mostly come from kids who extend invites to the entire class without much thought. Don’t misunderstand me; I do appreciate the gestures.

However, I can’t help but contemplate whether the parents truly comprehend what might occur if I were to bring Timothy along. The potential interruptions, the meltdowns – I wouldn’t want to overshadow the birthday boy or girl.

Hence, we graciously turn down every single invitation that comes our way.

Until your invitation showed up in the mail, accompanied by a heartfelt message. It said:

“Carter, who sits beside Timothy at school, often mentions him, and I truly hope he can attend the party. We’ve arranged for a bounce castle with a small slide attached at the bottom, and we plan to have water balloons and water guns for some fun water play. If it would be overwhelming with the whole class, perhaps Timothy could come earlier in the day. Let me know how we can arrange things to make it work for him.”

Your message arrived precisely when I needed it, and you didn’t even realize it. Thanks to your son, Timothy feels included, wanted, and empowered to express himself.

I want you to understand that because of your actions, I can face another day with renewed strength. I can handle more appointments, endure curious stares, and respond to countless questions. Your example gives me hope for Timothy’s future.

I just wanted to let you know what an exceptional job you are doing with your son.

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