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“Stop It”: The Start of Something New

January 25, 2012

by Sarena James


In my head I’ve thought of a thousand different scenarios of what it would be like when my son voluntarily addressed his peers.

Would he introduce himself? Would he ask to play ball? Would he offer one of his favorite snacks, a slice of a Fuji apple, or a corner of his peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Never, not once did I think it would come because he was being laughed at.

Our son was running outdoors when he fell and scraped his right knee. I heard him screaming and then saw his injury, no stitches needed, but certainly worthy of
a large Band-Aid.  The screams and the tears were completely justified, and in between them were these clearly spoken words, “Ouch. Red. Band-Aid.  Please.”   Oftentimes
, Grant’s scattered language is very difficult for him and us to find, but this time his words were the unmistakable lighthouse in an emotional storm.  He was able to verbalize what was wrong, and that alone helped make things right.

“A few of the children were laughing at him when he fell down. Grant got up, looked directly at them and said, ‘Stop it.’  I’m proud of him.”

We returned outside where one of his ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) Therapists was waiting. She was nodding and smiling the kind of smile that suggests she was proud, and that’s what she said. “A few of the children were laughing at him when he fell down. Grant got up, looked directly at them and said, ‘Stop it.’  I’m proud of him.”  

There it was. No more wondering what it would be like.  There was no name introduction, or sharing of an apple. Instead, there was simply this: a need for Understanding, Perspective, and Sensitivity. He, within himself, was able to discern exactly what was going on around him, and decided to address it in his way.  I hugged him for as long as he would allow, all of three seconds, and then watched him play a friendly game of tag with the wind.

Again my heart asked two unanswerable questions, “How much does he know? How much does he fully understand?” A certain peace came when I remembered my husband’s written words after cutting the grass with Grant. “The scariness of raising a son on the spectrum subsided considerably when I stopped focusing on what my son couldn’t do and started celebrating everything he was doing.” Grant is doing. He is learning, and he is teaching. He is writing, and he is speaking. He is running, and when he falls, he gets back up.


Sarena James, is a wife and stay-at-home mother of three who enjoys theater and writing. She and her family reside in Charleston, SC where they frequent historic tours and relax beachside. Originally from Aurora, CO, Sarena is a graduate of Paine College in Augusta, Ga.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2012 12:53 pm

    Grant can teach a whole country how to behave and treat each other!

  2. Faye permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:31 pm

    Memories are made of moments like these. Grant communicating outside of his circle of family, therapists, school environment. Hooray for him! Let’s fast-forward to the time he will be speaking at a special needs conference somewhere, and he’ll tell this anecdote from the journey of his childhood, and the audience will break into applause. We applaud him now.

  3. January 26, 2012 10:10 am

    So this gave me tears (you know who my momma is so that explains the super sensitive emotions, lol)! Seriously though, good for Grant for sticking up for himself! I can’t imagine how proud of him you are. I used to volunteer at a camp, Free to Be Me, every summer for about 3 years. It was for kids who had mental and/or physical “challenges.” I learned so much those three summers and fell in love with my kids. Two, a brother and sister, were both autistic and they were the sweetest little peas ever. It would always make me laugh how they would take advantage of me because they knew I was the push-over. If another volunteer told them, “no,” they’d immediately find me and lead me to what it was they wanted, knowing I’d give in. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for people with special needs because they’re are innocent and extremely brilliant, more than what they’re often credited for.

  4. Carroll permalink
    January 25, 2012 2:23 pm

    I know We probably sounded so mature later saying “You tell them, Grant!” It was a very appropriate response.

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