Dancing in the Rain

Dear Gary,

Thank for the wonderful event that I was privileged to be a part of on Sunday. I jotted down some thoughts and impressions that I wanted to share with you and your colleagues:

It didn’t matter that it was raining.

At the POAC event this past Sunday, an event sponsored for persons with autism and their families, at Windward Beach, in Brick, NJ, it was raining. But it didn’t matter. Families with a child with autism arrived, eager to partake in the wonderfully set up event, replete with rides, food stations, pirates, an exercise show, treasure hunt on the beach, and cannonball water balloons. I was there as a vendor, as my agency provides insurance-based ABA services to children with autism. But what I observed, moved my heart, as a professional, as a mother, as a person.

As the program progressed, I observed the people. I always enjoy people-watching. You can learn a lot about people from observing them. So, between handing out promotional materials and giveaways to parents and children, I noticed many things. I saw the newbies, families with newly diagnosed children. I saw the old-timers, with older children, who have been at POAC events for years. And I saw you, Gary, and the pioneers, the people with vision who made this event happen.

I saw that autism doesn’t discriminate between ethnicities. That autism doesn’t discriminate between income levels. I saw that autism affects an entire family, not just the child. I saw parents who could allow their children to walk around freely, and those who held onto their children tightly, knowing that he or she could break into a run any moment. And I saw the love, the hearts so big, so accepting that I couldn’t help but be inspired.

One of the parents, I’ll call her Laura, attended the event with her adolescent or adult son, Dave. Dave seemed to have more significant impairments, from the looks of it. From my view at our vendor table, I could see Laura standing near the pirates’ ‘stand’. The music was on and Laura took Dave’s hands in her own. She moved to the left, and he followed suit. She moved her hands upward and down, left and right. I observed for a couple of minutes. I got busy with greetings, giveaways, and protecting myself from the light rain. But when I looked up again a few minutes later, I saw that Laura was still at it. Music still on. Laura and Dave dancing slowly; she with a love for Dave and for life, he with a smile, and the serenity of acceptance and love. She must have danced that way for an hour. Each time I looked up, I saw them again. I would say that Dave was the happiest, nay, the luckiest man last Sunday.

No, it didn’t matter that it was raining. Laura took the opportunity, and was dancing in the rain.

Hats off to you, Laura, and all the parents who attended the wonderful event. And hats off to you, Gary, and all the folks at POAC for making this event happen.

Raizy Perlstein