Professor Hank

Today is World Autism Awareness Day.

Standing in line waiting to get on the zapline today at Camp Royall’s World Autism Awareness Family Fun Day in Moncure, NC, Hank began to get a little bored. He found his Dad’s reading glasses and walked over to me.

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And I snatched my camera and took this picture. I can see Hank in ten years now. That makes my heart leap out of my skin.

I know I am his mother, but I think he is the greatest boy on the planet. He amazes us every day with his delightful, hilarious personality, all his stories and facts, and just the way he bursts with joy when he’s enjoying something.

Recently, Hank was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. This was our first trip to a camp specifically intended to support autistic children and highly-functioning autistic children like Hank. Right away, Hank ran up to several children on the playground and introduced himself. He’s always outgoing, but because he can often misunderstand social cues, other children can find his behavior off-putting.

That didn’t happen today. As he shouted at the top of the climbing structure, “I’m the best climber here! I’m the highest”, another child, a girl around eight, took to Hank’s challenge and climbed all the way to the top, next to him. He liked that. He jumped on top of the tunnel, dipped his head over the edge and roared to all of the children inside. They roared back. Hank liked that, too.

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After waiting for almost two hours, his moment to ride the zap line finally arrives.

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Returning backwards with a smile.

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For Hank’s second push, another volunteer steps forward and gives him the biggest push possible.

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DSC 0036It was awesome.  Worth the long wait.

As we were getting in the car, Hank shouts: “Now you can sign me up for this camp! I love this camp! Why did they have this today anyway?” My answer? I didn’t really answer him directly. He knows he has Asperger’s. He also knows we think he is an amazing boy. We just wanted him to see the camp and meet other children like him.

This is the first time I have really written about Hank and Asperger’s Syndrome. I wasn’t sure I was going to write about it at all. I had to take some time to digest the diagnosis, and I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for Hank or us. What I want is for people recognize Hank for the special boy that he is. That’s all. Recognize that “we are one, but we are not the same.” Thanks, Bono.

DSC 0040Hank will  continue to amaze us. I cannot imagine what he’ll decide to be when he grows up, but I’m enjoying every step of his journey.

DSC 0003I know wherever it leads, (UPS driver or Lego Toy Tester), he’ll be blazing a trail behind him.

16 thoughts on “Professor Hank”

  1. Awww… I don’t know you guys, but clicked over when I saw the “Related Articles” link come through my site. What a great family you have, and Hank looks like a great kid. Thanks for starting my day off right. My best to everyone.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read the post and respond, Jane! Great picture of you and I don’t know you. But you know what they say: “a picture is worth 1000 words.”

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