By Lynne Mielke
Connor was our second child – another boy. We had dreams of our two sons playing together, sharing toys and clothes and being the best of brothers. But as time went on, we noticed that Connor wasn’t picking up language like he should. Lots of people, including our pediatrician, said don’t worry – it’s probably just because he’s a boy, he’s a second child, or it’s because he’s so bright. After all, Einstein talked late, right? Also, there was no way this could be autism, because he was so happy and social with others.
But as time went on, we realized that something indeed was wrong. He wasn’t talking normally, and his behavior was unusually difficult – beyond the typical “terrible two’s” – which stretched into the terrible threes. Finally the diagnosis was confirmed, and we knew that life would never be what we had dreamed of. I used to say it was a good thing he was so cute, or we might not have been able to put up with him much longer! 🙂
But over the years, with lots of special education interventions both within and outside of the school district, he started to be able to communicate better, and his behavior got better, and life started to become more normal.
As his personality blossomed, we realized that despite his autism, Connor was an amazing kid. He could shoot a basketball into a regulation hoop and almost never miss from the time he was three. Now he can jump on our trampoline, and shoot the ball into the hoop backwards, behind his head, mid-jump, and make it every time. His happiness and friendliness are simply contagious, and everyone who works with Connor enjoys him. He is actually the happiest person I know. He loves music, and has memorized all the popular songs on the radio, and dances up a storm whenever he gets the chance. Whenever he sees anyone at the store or on the street, he greets them with a friendly “Hi!” and a smile and a wave of the hand. He loves to help clean up, and is a really “good helper” at home. He brightens the day of almost everyone he comes in contact with.
We knew that Connor needed a friendly and supportive, highly social environment to live in when he grew up. Unfortunately, no such place existed nearby. So, along with several like-minded parents, we formed the beginning board for Sunflower Hill, and a new organization was born. It was just a dream, a vision that we had for the future of our children. A wonderful place to live, with a sense of community and family and belonging. A place with interesting and fulfilling activities. A place that a parent can feel good about their child living for the rest of their lives, knowing that they will be happy and well cared for after we are gone.
Sunflower Hill is going to be that place. And we are so grateful that work toward that goal is progressing so well. Connor is a loving soul, and I know that he will love living at Sunflower Hill.