Shining Blue for Autism is appreciated
Dear fellow Fairhavenites, especially our neighbors along Bridge Street from Francis Street to Park Avenue and all along the perimeter of Cushman Park,
While the face of the FHS clock shining blue for Autism Awareness Month is visible to us from where we live, I felt it was a good time to reach out and say thank you for your tolerance of the racket my son makes every day as he rides his bike and scooter up and down the sidewalks along your homes. This racket entails prolonged periods of shrill electronic buzzing and beeping, frequent baritone wails that crescendo and decrescendo, and occasional rhythmic bell ringing.
I know it gets annoying at times. I feel it too after he’s made a few of his rounds that take him around the park and down Bridge Street. But then again, I’ve gotten so used to it that often I don’t even hear it anymore, and hopefully you find that happening for you, as well.
Many of the good people of this town know my son Diego, who is now a freshman at FHS and very visible in the community, whether he’s riding to the fort with his mate Scott running behind him (sometimes with our two dogs, sometimes without), standing in front of our Route 6 house pumping his arm hoping for you to beep your horn, or marching with the FHS Band playing the bells during football games and parades. A lot of you are aware that Diego is Autistic and that his experience in our community is unique to him. Many know him as a delightful, friendly, polite young person and have come to accept that he too has a place in this community. Some of you have even come to appreciate him.
As Diego rides past your house, past you walking your dog in the park, or crossing in front of your vehicle in the crosswalk, his imagination is fully engaged in the moment as he pretends he is a train engineer and his scooter or bike is his train. It’s his favorite thing to do.
It being Autism Awareness Month, I know my neighbors and those who live along the route he takes to the fort and back are definitely aware of Diego. And most have progressed to the level of acceptance. I can only hope that all of us together can reach the next level — appreciation — for the joy that Diego experiences out there doing what he loves, and perhaps even the joy that he brings to the ones who see him out enjoying uninhibited happiness while unabashedly just being himself without fear of being judged by others. I think that’s something to be admired, something we all wish we had inside us — the freedom to be who we are, to do what makes us happy, to make a little noise in the world.
I do hope that you can view Diego through that lens of appreciation as I do, or at least with eyes (or ears, rather) of acceptance when you hear him. And if you see him, I hope you’ll wave at the engineer as he whizzes by whistling his train horn at you as a way of saying hello, or, “Watch out, ‘cause here I come!”
With all the deplorable noise we are exposed to out there, I hope that you won’t consider these buzzes, horns, and bells to be part of that and, instead, hear them as the sounds of your own unique neighborhood, where everyone is included, accepted, and appreciated, even during the months when the FHS clock isn’t lit up blue to remind us.
Jean Perry, Fairhaven
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