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To the Mom at the park who struggles to help her child engaged with their peers…. I see you.

First time playing in the splash pad this season

Hank loves water!

He loves splashing and feeling sprinkles of water on his hands and face. I adore watching his facial expressions, filled with so much excitement and joy.

Unfortunately, Hank still struggles in social settings due to sensory processing disorder commonly related to persons living with autism.

This poses challenges for Hank when visiting busy public spaces, such as the splash pad, which is a favourite spot for many during the hot summer days.

Today, the park was quiet, perhaps a sign that fall is on its way.

We often try to visit the park closer to dinner in hopes it will be less busy, maximizing our time for sensory overload.

Hank waited patiently today for his turn on the suspension swing. “Hank’s turn” he would chant after every kiddo inched forward towards the swing.

Four kiddos in line may not seem like a huge feat to many, but to Hank it’s an accomplishment worth celebrating.

This is where I took reflection today of last years visits to the Rotary Park with Hank. He has overcome many sensory/behavioural challenges, it’s really astonishing and I couldn’t be more proud of how hard he continues to work.

What use to be; pushing, hitting, kicking would have us leaving the park in a “football hold” while screaming “help”. I am extremely hopeful this is a thing of the past. (Fingers crossed)

Today, Hank observed the splash pad empty, and pointed saying “water”. I motioned with my hand to push the button for the water to start and go in the water.

I had little expectation he would actually go in, since he’s been quite tentative approaching the splash pad in the past, but there were always many others around.

The common sounds of the park may seem inviting to most; kids having fun, giggles, screams of delight and shouting “over here”.

These are the unexpected sounds that cause Hank to spiral into a meltdown. All the uncertainty is overwhelming to him.

He is slowly beginning to understand the concept of sound cancelling headphones, which is changing our lives for social interaction!

Hank ventured into the splash pad water and played peacefully. He didn’t seem deterred by more kids joining once he was splashing around.

I hope more days are like today. Today was a good day.

He is my reason. ❤️♾

Mandy Stapley