Standing in the middle of the buzzing and frantic playground, filled with parents hovering over their jubilant children, I started to realize what was happening.
It was a moment of subtlety and personal triumph. The Boy, my son, was swinging and absolutely loving it.
It’s not a big thing, I know. I know. It is something children all over the globe do all the time. But this time, it was him.
No longer frightening
Two years prior, we put him on a swing for the first time. It was one of those bucket swings that let you sit down partially covered to the waist.
He hated it. More specifically, he was frightened. So we pulled back and decided to try again later.
We figured at the time that the sensation of swinging presented some sensory issue for him. Autistic people often have sensory challenges. This seemed to be one of his.
But that all melted away when we returned to the park a couple years later, and I stood there watching him play.
A lesson in acceptance, accommodation
This time, the park had a new, voter-approved adaptive playground. It comes complete with a swing that provides children a supportive seat and protective casing.
There he was, swinging his face off for the first time in his life. His little legs bent and straightened with the motion, while his arms clung to the chest bar for dear life. Glorious.
Picture swinging in a roller-coaster seat that locks you in like a grandparent’s hug.
It was a lesson in acceptance and accommodation that reminded me how life’s small joys and critical services can open up to a segment of the population if we’re willing to adapt in ways that help.
We’re willing to help other people live their lives
I’ve since realized that society has become more accommodating through the generations.
Glasses, hearing aids, crutches, wheelchairs, shower handles and any number of public-transpiration signs are all examples of our willingness to help people live their lives.
Those developments give me hope that those swings are the first of many accommodations that the Boy will enjoy as he grows older. Some could help him gain access to education, employment or housing.
Others will let him communicate, travel and foster relationships.
For now, I’m just ecstatic that those blessed swings help him be a carefree little boy.
Louie Villalobos is a parenting blogger and digital producer for azcentral and allthemoms.com. You can follow him on Twitter @louievillalobos and find his podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play. Just search for “I am your father.”