Describe him in one word: Persistent
Connor is a happy, smart, energetic 6 year old! He loves everything outdoors, especially fishing, looking for bugs, and playing in dirt. He has a love for animals, and surprises his family with knowledge of animals they never knew existed! He has the sweetest personality, and a very funny sense of humor. One of Connor’s favorite things to do is read and his mom states that it is such a joy to see his imagination soar! Right now, when he grows up he wants to be Captain Underpants, tra-la-la!
To Connor’s family, inclusion means accepting others for who they are and what they have to offer. It means including others in all activities that may have challenges not batting an eye. A simple “Hi!” or smile is all someone may need to make them feel included. His mom shares that “our community needs more inclusion and it starts with us. By building a community where there are sensory/accessible parks we can include children with all needs. Let’s talk to our children and show them what it means to be accepted for who they are, not just what they see on the outside. The moment we get past the diagnosis is the day we become more inclusive.” For Connor and his family, empowerment means having the ability to “be you.” This includes doing your best and giving your best each and every day.
Connor and his family have been active Ambassadors for Easterseals. They have started speaking within the community about their Easterseals story, and share that it has been fascinating to watch Connor grow through these ambassador experiences. His mom shares that “since the beginning, I have seen my little boy grow into himself more and more as he is becoming comfortable with being in the spotlight, which was not always the case! Last year we shared our story with the Elmwood/Brimfield football team. I remember driving to Easterseals with Connor thinking to myself, I hope this goes well and he is happy. Sure enough, he ran into Easterseals and the next thing I know we are introduced.I started to speak and Connor interjects to say “Hi, I’m Connor! I am five.” I remember losing my thought process as I just witnessed my son feel comfortable with a room full of strangers! He then proceeded to go around the room and give fist bumps to each player. The look on my sons face was priceless. After that day at Easterseals, these young men made an impact on Connor as he refers to them as “his friends”. As a parent of an autistic child I fear the worst. I fear Connor not being accepted or included, but these TEENAGERS were able to give him the feeling of what it is like to be a teammate. Shortly after that day, I received an email that one of the players wanted to have Connor and another family included at their blackout game. The anonymous player wanted to see if there was a way to include them. When we showed up to the game, Coach Hollis and his team had something very special planned. Before the team took the field, they huddled around Connor and another Easterseals friend to show their friendship and loyalty. The team presented both kids with a jersey that had their names on it. That night, Connor was an honorary teammate and was accepted for who he was and who he is. As a parent watching all this happen and seeing the fist bumps to Connor or the “hey Connor” from the sidelines, I couldn’t help but feel at ease as my wish for him to be included was happening!
Connor can light up a room with his big smile and little giggles. He never backs down to any obstacle that he may face.