Spring in Maine (“mud season” as it’s affectionately called here) has finally arrived. After 5 months of snow and ice, it’s time for cold rain and soggy mush under your feet, yay. But it also means and summer is closer, and summers in Maine can be magical; somehow it makes you forget the darker, colder days.
In June of 2009, "spring" was uncharacteristically harsh – it rained 27 days that month. But come July, we mercifully found ourselves in the mind-altering California sun. We were staying in SOCAL and decided to find day camps for the kids. After much research, we found a camp with specialized programming for Autistic children. The following Monday at 7am, Roman and I were on the 405 up to the camp near Seal Beach.
The camp was impressive and after Roman settled, I was on my way. About 45 minutes later, I’m sitting down with a coffee refill and a newspaper at nearby coffee shop when my cell phones rings. I think it must be Kelley checking in. No, it’s the director of the Autism camp asking me to come and pick up Roman. I’m shocked, but manage, “Is he okay? What happened?” I’m wondering if he went medieval or cannibal on some kid. The Director assured me that he was fine; but that he was having difficulty and she didn’t think he was fitting in with the group. She delicately tells me that she doesn’t think he will fit in with the camp program. WTF? But this is autism camp? After going through a bizarre emotional upheaval, I calmed down and thought, ‘what can I learn from this?'
When I arrived, I was relieved to see Roman playing quietly with some trucks on the floor. I calmly approached the Director. “So what happened? Did he hurt another kid?” She politely said that he was delightful, but that he was not participating in the table activities and did not seem to fit in with this group. I pushed on, “What professional advice can you offer from your observations? As the director of an Autism camp, I’m sure you’ve seen all kinds of behaviors, how does my son compare to other Autistic children you’ve worked with? What does he need most? What do think about his potential?”
I was delirious and her excuses seemed hollow. After we got back in the car to leave, I wondered if it was too early for a whiskey brunch. Fortunately, I had one of my CD mixes in the car. Roman and I settled for Ice Cube’s, You Betta Check Yo self Before You Wreck Yo self! (Roman’s interpretation: You Betta Check Yo self Before You Wreck Your Pants, haaa!) We passed on the bar idea and opted for Smart Puffs and Mango Tango on the nearest pier. We sat by the water… anything to take the sting out of the morning.