Jonathan, the boy with autism

In the sixth grade my teachers took my class to the swimming pool on Fridays to work with the kids from the Alice Hatch Center.

The Alice Hatch Center was a preschool for kids with special needs.

I can’t remember any of the kids, or what kinds of “needs” they had… except for one:


Jonathan was “my” boy.

He was three years old, slight for his age, with blonde hair and gray-blue eyes.

Jonathan had autism.

For whatever reason, Jonathan decided he liked me and trusted me.

I was the only one he’d swim with.

To say we were buddies was an understatement.

I loved that kid.

I’m pretty sure he loved me too.

I looked forward to seeing him each Friday afternoon.

That was when I decided I wanted to be a child psychologist and work with autistic kids.

I was eleven.

Obviously that dream didn’t stick with me for the long term. (It did for about 4-5 years though!)

I’m no child psychologist today, nor do I desire to be. But I always have had a special soft spot in my heart for kids with special needs.

They are so often misunderstood. Misunderstood and even feared.

I sometimes think about Jonathan today. He would be about 26 – all grown up. I dont even know his last name.

I wonder if he lives independently and what his life is like.

I sometimes miss him too.

What great teachers I had – Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Fox – who gave their sixth graders a chance to help kids in need, and a chance to be changed in the process.



Q for you: What special person from your childhood do you miss?




Click Clink Five is a blog by Adriel Booker. | Five minutes a day, unedited. | 2012 All rights reserved. | Adriel also writes on parenting and motherhood at The Mommyhood Memos.

About Adriel Booker

Author, speaker, advocate, and non-prof director. Happily married city-lover, mother, immigrant, and emoji enthusiast in a city by the sea. ✌️ View all posts by Adriel Booker

6 responses to “Jonathan, the boy with autism

  • domesticatedkir

    My favorite “special needs” person is still very much in my life, though I don’t ever really think of him like that. He’s my little brother, who also has autism, and he is amazing. It’s incredible how once you truly experience life with someone who thinks so drastically differently from you, your eyes open to another world and their “special” needs become just their needs, something you accept without a second thought. I really admire your acceptance and love of Jonathan at such a young age. My brother and I both know from experience that not everyone “gets it”, even adults, even teachers (heck, even special ed. teachers). I hope this special kind of compassion is something your children pick up from you, because we need more people in the world who are willing to accept those who can seem so different.

    • Adriel @ CC5

      i love this: “and their “special” needs become just their needs”. thank you for that. that really challenges my thinking in a good way. you and your brother are blessed to have one another.

  • Branson

    What an awesome experience and lesson!

  • Jody Collins

    Adriel I work with children in Special Ed, which I’ve done for four years now. Autistic children say some of the most amazing things. I asked a little boy today what he saw this weekend while riding his scooter.

    “Oh, just the whole plain world.”

    just the whole plain world………..pretty amazing.

  • my inner critic « Click Clink Five

    […] The year I learned about autism. […]

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