The last full day of our vacation, we met up with Grandma Chris for breakfast.
We then drove by the University of Central Florida, the college that Randy and I met at. When Ryan, Grace, and I were in Florida in February, we visited the campus, but Randy was not with us. We first stopped at the bookstore and we picked up a few souvenirs and shirts. I asked Ryan if he wanted anything (he had gotten a shirt at the bookstore last time). His reply was CAN WE GO INSIDE DAD’S FRATERNITY HOUSE? We had just driven down Greek Park Drive on the campus and in February, I took Grace into my sorority house. Randy replied, “Ryan, you don’t want to go in there.”
Then as we were at the checkout, I told Ryan, “Last chance to get a souvenir.” His reply: REALLY WANT TO GO IN THE FRAT HOUSE.
So Randy conceded and we did.
Ryan’s response about the house: HAPPY TO SEE IT BUT IT WAS TOO YUCKY.
As we were leaving, Randy said, “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”
I replied, “It was worse than I thought it would be.”
Later that afternoon, we went over to the home of our friends from college, Noel and Laura. We were joined by our friends Steve and Melissa and their children too. Noel and Steve are Randy’s fraternity brothers. All three families have children ranging from 8 to 12 years old.
Ayla is Steve and Melissa’s daughter. She is just 2 months older than Ryan. When we lived in Florida, we often saw the other families and Ayla and Ryan were often together. Melissa has been telling Ayla about Ryan for years and Ayla was really looking forward to spending time with Ryan.
When we arrived, Ayla immediately gravitated to Ryan. The kids went in the pool shortly after arriving and even though Ryan could not communicate back while in the pool, Ayla spent time with him.
She was kind and friendly and Ryan picked up on it right away. If I am being honest, most kids Ryan’s age don’t always have the patience to engage Ryan in a conversation. Many kids are polite to Ryan, but Ayla was extraordinary with him. She followed him around the house asking him questions (remember in our last post how I mentioned that Ryan has difficulty staying in one spot in other people’s homes). She was persistent. She wanted to know about Ryan and she wanted Ryan to know about her. They talked about school, safety patrol, books, cross country, student government, and the school’s morning news show. I was worried that it might be too much for Ryan, but he loved it and loved Ayla. He did get tired of using the letter board towards the end so we had Ayla do a lot of talking. He really enjoyed spending time with Ayla.
SHE IS SO KIND TO ME. TOO LIKING TO THINK SHE IS A GOOD FRIEND TO ME ALREADY. MEANINGFUL BECAUSE SHE REALLY WANTED TO GET TO KNOW ME. MOST TOO MUCH JUDGE ME BY MY STRANGE MOVEMENTS. CAN WE REALLY LOOK PAST ODDITIES AND SEE THE REAL PERSON? AYLA PROVES WE CAN.
We left early the next day to return back to Florida. So now we have caught you up on the rest of the summer. Ryan and I started school this week and the first week went great.
One of my goals for this year is to provide Ryan with more social opportunities with other homeschoolers. On Friday, Ryan and I attended a social event for kids in the area at the Quarter Lounge Arcade. I thought that the arcade would be like Dave and Buster’s, but when I looked up the website, it was mostly old school arcade games, consoles, and pinball machines. Ryan was having second thoughts on going because due to his poor fine motor skills, those types of games are hard for him. We decided to go anyway because I told him that we would have the opportunity to meet new people and that there will be other events within this group that he will enjoy. So we went and it was great! We met many nice families and there are several boys Ryan’s age in the group. Ryan was able to use his board to introduce himself to some of the kids and parents. We then checked out the place and found The Hobbit Pinball Game! Ryan and I had just finished reading The Hobbit the night before! We played it and had fun.
Ryan was then interested in interviewing the store employee there. His name was Bast and he was busy but told Ryan that he would gladly be interviewed when it slowed down. We walked around some more, but it was a bit loud and crowded. Ryan then began to hover near the front lobby area in order to interview Bast. In the beginning, I could tell that Bast was waiting for Ryan to look at him when he was answering, but I explained to him that Ryan was still listening even if it did not look like he was. Bast understood and the interview went well. At the end, Bast asked Ryan if he liked London. Ryan replied NEVER BEEN. Bast mentioned that he was going and was going to bring back a postcard for Ryan.
When I asked for Ryan’s input on this, he replied: TOO LIKING BAST. HE IS A FITTING MAN WHO IS BATTLING A DISEASE BUT STILL WANTS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. TOO LIKING TO VISIT HIM AGAIN.
I told Ryan that I wasn’t sure if I could post what he spelled on the blog without checking with Bast first. He replied CAN WRITE HIM A NOTE THEN.
I then thought that I would try and call the arcade to see if Bast was working to see if it would be okay if we shared what Ryan wrote. I called and Bast was the one who answered. I explained who I was (Stephanie, Ryan’s mom who had interviewed him on Friday) and he replied, “I know exactly who you are as I have read Ryan’s blog.” We had given him a business card before we left.
Bast went on to say that it would be okay to post about it and that he wants to spread awareness and show that people can move forward despite battling cancer and can help others. I then explained that that was exactly what Ryan had picked up on during the interview (Bast had answered the question about a typical day by indicating that because he has cancer his day starts at the doctor’s office for chemo some days).
Bast asked me if I would ask Ryan if it would be okay for him to be a person that Ryan could talk to if he wanted to for a sounding board or advice. I told him that I would put him on speaker phone and that he could ask him. We did that and Ryan replied YES. TOO KIND OF YOU SAY THAT. I spoke a bit longer to Bast as he explained the type of cancer that he has is a blood cancer (polycythemia vera) and that he has lost a considerable amount of weight as a result and that he undergoes chemotherapy and radiation and is in clinical trials as well.
He reiterated that he really enjoyed meeting Ryan and he is sincere in his offer to talk with him and hang out with him. I told him that we would be in touch once he returns from London.
So the event was a win all the way around as we met a wonderful person and it was good start for our increase in social activities. I know that Ryan will have an opportunity to interact with other homeschoolers at some of the events. I am looking forward to more of these for him!
On a final note, Ryan’s First Holy Communion is this Saturday. We will be sure to post pictures on our Facebook page and blog about it as soon as we can!
3 thoughts on “Florida Vacation Part 3 and a Social Outing, Both Include Meeting Special New Friends”
I loved Ryan’s smiling face in front of the Hobbit machine.
Just read your three part summer posts, it sounds like you all had a great time in Florida! I loved seeing all the photos. Keep up the great work Ryan! 🙂
I saw the video with Mike and Ryan using his communication board. I’m an OT who works in assistive technology and lover how well he used it. Have you explored other similar types of AAC that would afford Ryan more independence? There are many oprions coming available as technology advances. I’d be open to discussing this further with you and Ryan if you’re interested.