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Memoir of Service
“Yay Joe,” exclaimed the slender gray –haired woman. Joe patted his tiny thigh signaling for the woman to spin him around in the bright canary yellow revolving chair.
“We try to have them communicate with us as much as possible,” the woman said turning towards me.
Joe is three years old and lives with autism, so “Go” is a challenge for him. He was one of eight kids in the room who also have autism and who are learning to grow with this challenge.
I was one of two eighth graders being of service to the community on the last community service field trio of the school year.
“You try to give him a go,” said the lady as she passed me the chair holding the small boy. Joe let his right hand make a soft thud on his shorts and I let the chair swirl. When I halted the chair to stop, he beamed with joy and tapped his side several times. His eyes were shining with hope and as I looked into them my eyes began to reflect the joy in his.
After a couple of more spins, Justin decided to move on to another game. So I began to explore the rest of the room. It was small and brightened by sunlight streaming in from the windows and bouncing off the clean, white walls.
Then a tiny girl skipped by me and stopped at a short brown table. When she moved her head the small amber plaits in her hair flew and tapped her head. A poster board with her name and photo told me her name was Nyah.
“Hi,” I whispered crouching down to sit in a petit chair designed for three-year old butts.
“Hi!,” she responded she responded brightly. To my surprise she could talk a little. The younger woman helping Nyah was working on teaching her to share which told me that autism affected her social skills more than her verbal communication. The woman spread brightly colored toy pieces on the table. Automatically, Nyah reached for all of the toys her small hands could hold and I scooped up the leftover ones. Then, I asked her for a toy, but in response she clutched the tiny objects and silently shook her head no, shaking her braids. Out of the three pieces in my hand, I put one in hers. Then she put one toy in my hand. With a sunny smile, her eyes twinkled when she realized how good it felt to share.
All of the autistic children I saw that day were so beautiful and full of life. Their eyes sparkled with the hope of a better tomorrow when autism will be cured and everyone will just see these children as humans.
Moments like this one makes service so very rewarding.