A mom’s emotional post about her son with autism shows that even the smallest tasks can feel like huge victories.
On August 30, Sara Farrell Baker wrote on Facebook about “one of the proudest moments” of her life. That same day, she took her son, 5-year-old August, to his elementary school to get him acquainted with his surroundings. August, who has autism and sensory sensitivities, toured his school with his mother and visited one of the bathrooms he’d be using throughout the school year. Baker told her son that he had the option of using the hand dryer in the bathroom, although she knew they typically scare him.
“They scare him, overwhelm him, can be physically painful for his ears, and he has had intense anxiety over them since he was a baby,” she wrote. “I frequently hold it if we are out so I don’t need to bring him inside of a public bathroom.”
Baker wrote that she was stunned when her son reached toward the hand dryer and prepared herself for the subsequent “meltdown.” But August surprised her.
“He liked the blue light that glowed on his skin,” Baker wrote. “He giggled at the way the force of the air moved the flesh on his palms.”
The “incredibly proud” mom started crying after seeing her son overcome what had once been a huge obstacle.
“It was so unexpected and caught me completely off guard, and then my emotions caught me off guard as well,” she told HuffPost. “I am so used to hand dryers being a huge source of stress and fear for him that seeing him use one like it was nothing was so out of the realm of possibilities.”
Baker told HuffPost that August was diagnosed in January with autism and an unspecified anxiety disorder related to his sensory sensitivities.
“We’ve been told that in some ways, he isn’t super typical for what most people think of when it comes to autism,” she said. “One small example is he can make eye contact. But in other ways, he has very strong symptoms. He does a lot of verbal stimming, making noises that are repetitive but soothing for him. He is also incredibly intelligent.”
Though it may seem like a simple task for other kids, the moment August used the hand dryer was like “knocking through a wall,” Baker said.
“Seeing him adapting to the world around him and trying new things are small victories, but this journey makes them feel like Olympic-sized wins,” she wrote.
Since sharing the post about her son’s monumental moment, Baker has been overwhelmed with positivity from her readers. Some parents have reached out to say they have experienced similar milestones with their children. Others have told Baker that the post has given them hope for their kids with similar sensitivities.
Baker told HuffPost that her son, who enjoys doing crafts and playing with building toys, has learned to becoming tolerant of things like sitting on a swing and getting his hands dirty with help from occupational therapy.
As she watched her son enjoy something that had once caused him such frustration, she felt proud and grateful.
“It’s a stupid hand dryer,” she wrote. “But this moment meant the world to me.”
Keep up with Baker and her family on Facebook.