In the last week, two of Max's former therapists and one teacher have reached out about him. Therapists have always been the wind behind Max's development wings, and he has formed amazing relationships with them over the years. I knew he'd be thrilled to see them and vice versa. A pandemic win-win.
First, his old OT asked if she could stop by to do a socially distant hello in honor of Max's 18th birthday. She said she missed his smile and his "happy self." This OT had always been especially wonderful with Max—she was so attentive to his needs, and she was his buddy when the class went out on trips and Max needed a helping hand. I forgot to tell Max that she was coming, and so on Friday I was upstairs working in my attic when she showed up at the house. It was unusually warm outside for December and Max had been hanging at the front door. She knew Max loves ice-cream, and she'd brought a tub of it from Carvel—and she remembered that he in particular loved "swirl" (chocolate and vanilla together).
The two of them ended up taking a walk around the neighborhood and catching up, and then I had the pleasure of chatting with her as we stood on our front porch. She mentioned again how happy Max had always been and hard-working, and I beamed behind my mask.
The very next day, his speech therapist from his elementary school reached out to me. She also knew Max had turned 18, and wanted to give him something. She said it was part of a school project, and offered to come by. Max was excited. This was the speech therapist who had gotten him involved in a pilot iPad program back when they first came out, and I had always admired her smarts and gentle ways.
And so, Jen stopped by and I had all the feels when I saw her as I thought of his amazing old school and just how far he'd come during this time there. We chatted for a bit and, just like the other therapist, she spoke so fondly of Max.
Our children's bonds with their therapists and teachers are like no others in their lives. Not only are these people there to physically and cognitively enable and coach our children, they give them can-do confidence and serve as their cheerleaders. One of Max's most formative teachers was Linda, who used to call him a "smart guy"—and Max started calling himself that, too. Linda came to his bar mitzvah and when Max was done with the service, he dashed down the aisle and threw his arms around her.
Jen was pitching in with a leadership project at the school in which students were helping a young woman from Zimbabwe get an education. They were selling Yuda Bands (from the Spanish word to "help") to support her. The bracelets are made of leather and coconut in Guatemala, and every one purchased pays the school fees of a high-schooler for a week.
Jen had a bracelet to give Max. She said it reminded her of him, and slipped it onto his hand.
The very next day, the amazing woman who used to run Max's skills program messaged me to ask how he was doing. Max will be doing a Facetime with her, soon.
It's no coincidence that this outreach is happening during the holiday times. More than ever, we need the warmth, familiarity and comfort of those connections. And the joy. Oh, the joy.