Thursday, May 24, 2012
I didn't witness a miracle, but I witnessed something pretty amazing.
I have been looking forward to this concert for a long time, so much I was super excited to be working the night of the concert - as I would be going for sure, as my client is an amazing performer in it. Of course 2 appointments end up taking over my life, and I had to switch my shift - but still, was going to see Momentum Choir - and even better, I got to bring Maddie, Owen, and my grandparents.
My grandparents knew about the choir, they know I get to see them practice, they knew the choir consisted of people with diabilities, and they were excited to go when I asked them. I didn't know what else I should tell them - let them find out for themselves. We pull up to the church, and the parking lot is filling up more and more, and we go in. I introduce the kids to a few people I know from work, and we head in.
Tons of unknown people, small chairs, lights - very over stimulating for Owen. He begins to stim, off the chairs, off people, lots of humming - but I think to myself, "best environment to do it". Nana agrees, he was doing fine - just over whelmed a bit - but not bad. Then it begins. I am not sure if the older women in front of me knew they were attending a concert for amazing people that have disabilities, but the kid behind them acting all different and "odd" - yep, has a disability. I hmmmed and hawedddddd for a few minutes, trying to figure out in my brain if I should say something as I watched their dirty looks, and the comments being said back and forth and talked to nana and my friend Jen, and thought, yes - I am doing it, advocacy at a concert, for people with disabilities.
I leaned over out of my seat after the last look I could handle, and said, " I am sorry if my son is putting his head near you or being loud or bumping the back of your chair, he has Autism he can't help it". The woman to the left was fine, understood - the other one, " I thought that was it". I made a snuff, and sat back down. I advocated as much as I could for him, in that environment, and without being outright belligerent - I did it, and felt good.
Owen was not the best throughout the performance, but he wasn't the worst. He clapped with everyone else, he sung when he knew the words, and he pointed out, NAMETAG!! when Bethesda's logo appeared. Maddie loved it, switched laps most of the evening but did so well.
As we were watching the amazing performance of Momentum I would often glance over to my grandparents. As my grandpa held Owen on his lap for 75% of the performance, I saw him cry and hold my nanas hand throughout. I wasn't sure if the emotions came from Owen, if it came from pity, or if it came from total and complete amazement... and that it was. I was watching my grandparents in complete amazement of what they were seeing and what they were listening too - and that for me, was amazing.
As the performance ended, my nana looked at me and said, "Van, you never told me". Of course asking her what she meant, I apparently never told her how diverse the ages of the members were, how amazing they were, that the music she would know - and that it would, "touch her". We talked about it the whole way home back to Niagara Falls, that they didn't realize they would see people in the choir their age with disabilities, it was an eye opener.. and as a Support Worker with people with disabilities, and a mom to 2 sons with ASD - the totally new perception and love for these wonderful people made my heart warm, and I was proud.
Momentum I got to witness you change the perception of 2 people who mean the world to me, to show them that Owen and Ben can be totally happy in anything they choose to do - there is an amazing life awaiting for them for whatever path they go down. Thank you.