#Saturday Success is celebrated every Saturday in my Facebook group “Autism – Connection on the Spectrum”. Our members post their success stories and for those raising a child with autism, what for us is a HUGE achievement may be a non-event for the rest of the world, but we see any step forward as progress so we cheer each other on!
So often, this progress is a result of weeks, months even years of therapy. Sometimes it just happens out of the blue – regardless, we cheer each other on.
Well today my #Saturday Success is a big deal even in the general community! Richard turned 21 last week. He celebrated by flying interstate by himself to visit his sister Emily, who then took him to Fiji. He had a ball! The Fijians are very kind and accepting and they loved interacting with Richard. While he was away, Richard’s friend Robert, who is a dear family friend, called me to say that he and the boys at Bronte Beach want to have a party for him.
I was moved to tears. These young men over the years have taken Richard under their wing and just included him. He hangs out with them at the beach, watches the Boardrider’s events and helps out on the BBQ. Last year he was even invited to attend their formal as they knew that Rich had not attended his own high school formal. I was apprehensive, but Richard had a blast, he even had a date!
I don’t know many of the boardriders personally, I only know a couple of them, but their acceptance of Richard and their friendship epitomises the concept of mateship. It’s second nature to them. I’m not really sure why, perhaps because surf culture dictates that the older guys look after or mentor the grommets or the young newcomers to the sport. Regardless of why, Richard is a welcome member of the community at Bronte Beach and this has meant the world to him. A sense of belonging is a basic human need and despite Richard struggling to find that sense of belonging in other areas, down at Bronte, there is no judgement, he is accepted.
We have just dropped him off at the beach for his party, and we will be returning at lunchtime to join in. While walking him to the surf club, I was caught off guard by the warm welcome he received, as we made our way across the park, Richard’s name was called out, so he ran towards the group and in full speed launched himself into the air where thankfully they caught him and tossed him up and down a few times. Then as we made our way to the surf club, every person we passed said hi or called his name or wished him happy birthday! My heart just melted!
We left him there so he could just hang out while the surf competition continued and we will return shortly for the celebration. The sense of peace and gratitude that I feel today is indescribable, and for me, this is a huge #SaturdaySuccess moment! Stay tuned for updates, including Richard’s speech!