Saturday, August 28, 2010
You've Got Mail
At the beginning of this summer, Aiden somehow got it in his head that he wanted to drive a transport truck. And he wasn't talking about it in that cute, "when I grow up..." kind of way. He meant now. Those of you familiar with autism know that once our kids get something in their head, it tends to stay there. So, for weeks we were inindated with the same question, "When I'm five can I drive a transport truck?" We'd try to shrug off our "no" answer to lighten the blow, but his insistence grew. And his dissapointment did too. We were being badgered, and there was no end in sight to this badgering.
So, I had an idea. Aiden and I wrote a letter to Hon. Kevin O'Brien, the Newfoundland Minister of Governemtn Services. That's right, I wanted Aiden to get the news straight from the horses mouth so that he could accept the "no" more easily. Also, I thought it would buy us a load of time, so whenever he would ask his question, we would say, "You'll have to get your letter back and see what the Minister says."
Ha Ha. I fully assumed that I would wait a reasonable amount of time and send him a reply myself, gently letting him down. But to my great shock, yesterday's post contained a letter addressed to him in a provincial government envelope. Could it be? Unbelievably, he had gotten a reply.
And not just any reply, he recieved a three page hand written letter, sighed "Kevin". And let me tell you, it was a beautiful letter, much better than the fake reply I had been planning. The Minister talked about his own brother wanting to drive a truck, and how he had grown up to make a career of being a trucker. He went on to say that he had to be 19 to get his license, but that time goes very quickly when you are young. So eleoquently he encouraged him to keep his career goals open, and that perhaps he might rather start a trucking business instead, and own an entire fleet of trucks, calling this "Something to dream for." Finally, he invited Aiden to write to him again anytime he wanted, or even to get us to bring him to his office so that they could meet each other.
I've got to tell you something. This response has touched us greatly. I think of all the letters I have written to provincial governemtn ministers, and no responses ever come my way. But I think of this man, who opened a letter from a little boy and took the time not just to brush it off, but to handwrite a meaningful response.
Thank you Minister O'Brien.
He didn't know that Aiden had autism. He just answered an innocent little boy's letter, and showed great respect for a little boy's dreams. He let him down gently.
"Mom, when I'm 19 can I drive a transport truck?"
Let's cross that bridge when we come to it.....