Growing up with Garrett in the house has been magical to say the least. He is just so much fun to be around, from the way he introduces everything he does with a preceding statement, such as, "I am going to do a belly flop, now." or "I am going to watch a movie now"... "without doing my chores." (uttered quietly under his breath) to his extremely dry sense of humor which only a few can appreciate. Just this morning, I walked passed Garrett all rolled up in a blanket, laying on the floor. When I said, "Hello Garrett.", he responded, "I'm not here. You can't see me." as if hiding under that blanket could camouflage his 5'6" body. From a young age, we knew Garrett was different. He was special from the very beginning. He is and always has been very rigid in his thought process and thrives on consistent schedules and clear instructions. In a lot of ways, it makes life easier. There are never any surprises with Garrett. You get what you see. He has very distinct likes and dislikes. So it is easy to appease him. However, in a lot of ways, his rigidity makes life quite difficult. There is absolutely no room for things unscheduled or anything out of the norm and especially nothing that requires flexibility. For example, if doesn't get his clothes washed on Tuesday, he may think that he has to wear dirty clothes for another week, instead of just washing them on Wednesday. While this may seem so easy for other people to grasp. He just can't manage to figure it out. Needless to say, hitting Jr. High was very difficult. This last year, the second quarter of class started with all new faces. He thought he was in the wrong class and refused to enter the room. This did not go over well with the teachers, who insisted he follow instructions and thus he ended up in ISS. So, sometimes it's a challenge raising a child with Autism, but most of the time it is a gift. Inside of him is locked all the mysteries of this private little world and my job is to be the key to unlock his world to the universe. It's a challenge with a large learning curve. I don't know if there is any mother who starts out thinking to herself, "I want a child with Autism." because most people simply don't know what to do with an autistic child. But the luckiest people in the world are the parents of autistic children and the people who dedicate their lives to working with them. I spend hours a day teaching Garrett basic life skills. Without even trying, he teaches me character traits that most people spend a lifetime seeking out. From him, I learn unconditional love, patience, kindness, charity, tolerance, understanding, and empathy. In my time with him, I have learned how to ask simple questions before rushing to judgement, that there are two sides to every story, how to laugh at the small stuff, how to not be put off by the politically incorrect and most importantly, I have learned that every person in this world has worth. Every person has value and a purpose in this life, regardless of their ability level. So, if I must spend all of my days repeatedly teaching Garrett appropriate social skills, I say it's worth it. And I hope I can laugh along the way.