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Dream for a Daughter with Autism

By Pat Linkhorn

I wrote this poem for an overhead I used for a presentation several years ago. I happened to come across this overhead one day last week. As I read it, I realized that my dream for Kim to attend a school dance with friends had occurred not once, but twice since school started in September.

Now when she went to her first dance, I was a bit skeptical. But we've been working on building a circle of friends for her for the past several years Camp Fire, Brownies, 4-H, etc. She has some pretty neat friends and a lot of kids who speak to her whenever were out in public. So Id asked one of them to kind of watch her at the dance and help her with her money. Kim was a little timid about going into the dance, but when she saw her friends, she decided shed stay. Her dad came home after dropping her off and we both acted as if it was the most natural thing in the world; neither of us voicing our concerns. We went to pick her up and all the kids and teachers told us what a good time shed had and how well shed behaved. It was a pretty big landmark for us.

Even though we realized wed accomplished something here, we didn't place too much importance to it. When I read what Id written though, it brought back all the memories of how shed been when Id written it. At that time I really thought it would be one of those events that would never occur, but Id still had a vision of it happening. I'm sure many of her former teachers never thought it would happen either.

Kim is autistic. She used to run out into the road chasing butterflies, eat glass, bang her head on the wall, and hide under tables when things got too hectic. I used to have to use the mixer and vacuum when she was asleep. Fire drills would send her up the wall literally, and she never used to play with kids, just beside them. She had some pretty severe behaviors. The thought of her actually being away from me with other kids, at a place like a dance, for any period of time was unthinkable. But I did have that vision, although it seemed pretty unrealistic when I wrote it.

Kim is twelve years old now and I've been talking about what she might be able to do as an adult. I want her to be independent, have a job and live a full life. To be honest though, I have these horrible visions of where she may end up living and what she may end up having to do when I'm gone. I talk about her future, but do I think shell be able to have a good one? Well, now that I've seen my dream about the dance come true, I can finally move on to my next dream and be able to really believe that it will come true.

If I hadn't written my dream down, I still wouldn't be able to fully believe in my next dream. We tend to forget how far our children have come because its such a slow process and perhaps its sometimes too painful to remember the past and all its painful memories. I don't usually like going back there and remembering all those things. This time was different though. I was able to see how far she's come and believe me, that was a good feeling. Remember to celebrate your children's successes and dream some impossible dreams. Write them down somewhere and read them every so often. And aim high, because it's not impossible.


A dream is not necessarily a "full-blown" vision of what a parent wants for a child. It may only be a tiny slice of their future life.

"A moment in time"

Krystal crossing the street in a big city with her seeing eye dog. (alone)

Krystal listening to an audio tape of a book I've read.

Kim at a school dance with friends.

It is the professionals job to see beyond the 9 month commitment they may have with a particular child and help the parent see how what they're doing at this point in time will help to make that dream a reality.

Pat Linkhorn was an advocate/trainer/information specialist with the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities.. She is also an experienced parent and has two girls with special needs - autism and blindness due to prematurity. Her book Off the Fence discusses the special needs education system from a parent and professional view.

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