It is crazy to me how I have been matched with my buddy for almost two years, the time flew by so fast. I came into this mentorship thinking I was going to help my buddy grow, but instead it has been him teaching me! What started with a giant smile on a Zoom screen has now become a hug to end each meeting. My buddy and I love to spend time outdoors. Whether it is working on his new lacrosse skills or searching around the parks looking for cool bugs, it always becomes a great memory. Over the past two years, I have seen him grow so much to the point where he is eager to try new things and comfortable in public while very aware of others around him. He has taught me how to be a great friend to everyone, including strangers! He inspires me to reach out to new people the way he can so easily start a conversation with anyone just about anywhere! I look forward to every meeting because it lets me enjoy my time without worrying about other things. I am beyond thankful for the impact he has and will continue to have in helping me grow as a person!
I asked our 11-year-old son, what was the best thing about being hooked up with his AFK mentor, David. He said, "I got a really awesome friend."
"Ok," I said, and being a nosey dad, I dug for details. He gave me a few nondescript answers (nose deep in a "Warriors" book) before I realized he'd already given the best possible answer. Our son and David, his 18-year-old mentor and a senior at Skyline High School, are clearly, unmistakably, unequivocally, good friends.
They couldn't help but be. After almost 2 years of Saturdays where they've taken walks, kicked balls around, carved pumpkins, "window" shopped for lizards, talked about Pokémon, talked about friends, talked about making friends, talked about what makes a good friend, my autistic son knows without question that his friend David is totally for him. With guidance from the AFK team, David has consistently and intentionally become a part of our son’s experience as a pimply, sweet, silly preteen on the spectrum. He can't wait to see David next Saturday.