The Little Things

umbrellas for guests’ use in the lobby of the Hotel Country Villa, Nagarkot, Nepal, during monsoon season 

Sometimes the little things* mean so much.

Yesterday, we participated in a day-long Scouting event that Nigel’s troop organizes annually – Christmas tree recycling. The Scouts and their parents drive all over our town and the neighboring town, pick up Christmas trees from people’s homes, load them onto trucks and trailers, and take them to a local park where later they are turned into fish habitat and mulch. It’s a great program for the community, and the donations received from it help to fund the Scout Troop’s activities for the year.

Halfway through the day, we break for lunch, which is prepared and served by Scout parents and siblings at the local church where we have our weekly meetings. During lunch, one of the Scout’s sisters walked around the tables refilling drinks for people. Nigel was seated at a table near me, and as she passed by, he held up his cup for her to refill. She did, and he said, “Thank you.” He said it perfectly, so naturally, like he’s been saying it all along. And he said it completely unprompted.

My heart raced, and I wanted to stand up and shout, “Did you hear what he just said?! On his own?!” For years, after he finally started talking, I have always had to prompt him to thank someone, whether it’s for a gift, a server bringing him something in a restaurant, me buying something that he wanted, or for anyone helping him in some way. I have repeatedly told him that whenever someone does something for him, even if it’s just holding a door open for him, he should say thank you. And, until yesterday, I had never heard him say it unprompted. The way autism affects him socially, it just doesn’t occur to him to thank people. I think that now, at this age, he understands why he should and that it’s expected, but he usually just doesn’t think of it at the time. He may be battling sensory issues in whatever environment he’s in, or preoccupied in some way that we don’t understand. It’s not because he’s rude and doesn’t have manners. And I know that he does the best that he can, and his family and friends know it too. We don’t hold it against him when he doesn’t thank us.

But the general public doesn’t know or understand, and that is why I have continued to drill into him to say thank you. And that’s also why I write and advocate about autism – so that the general public might start to know and understand, and he can meet them halfway. He won’t always say thank you when he should. He can’t always say thank you. But he tries. And when he does, it’s beautiful to hear. It’s a little thing, but it means so much.

*For more not-so-little things, check out my friend Jess‘s Community Brag Page! It’s a great space for any parent of a child (any age) with ASD, whether you are a blogger or not, to contribute to an ongoing celebration of our kids’ amazing progress. Cheers!

18 thoughts on “The Little Things

  1. jess

    what a wonderful moment – when all the hard work suddenly pays off. it’s a great reminder not to give up even when we don’t think we’re seeing results!

    and thanks for linking to the brag page. the stories we’ve been seeing there are so inspiring!


  2. Paulene Angela

    I am right here with you. I’ve lost count of how many prompts I’ve given my son, sometimes I feel I must be such a heavy pain (still he hasn’t said “mum give me a break” or given me one of those looks).
    When you do hear it, without a prompt, it’s like magic.

  3. Jenn E

    It makes it worth it when they start to do and say things without a prompt.

    Lila however prompts me to say Thank you whenever she brings me something, whether I’ve asked for it or not.

  4. mama edge

    I know that feeling of wanting to shout out to the world that some tiny miracle has just happened. That’s what’s so great about blogging — we can share these little/big moments with people who get it.

    I got it! Yay!

  5. Kim

    So exciting! All that hard work payed off and will continue to do so, in many ways.

    The little things are moments that really lift me up and make me smile.

    I grinned when I read this–I totally get it!


  6. Grandpa Savko

    I really appreciate your sharing this special moment, Tanya. At the risk of being stereotyped, I can’t resist asking, was she cute??

  7. Cinda

    We should always celebrate the good things! And, the good thing is that with the majority of kids with autism, once they have something down they keep doing it. Good job, Nigel’s mom!

  8. Tanya Savko Post author

    Funny, Dad! Yes, she’s cute, but she’s also very nice and has known Nigel since elementary school. She definitely deserves a big thank you!

  9. Carrie N

    “I can’t resist asking, was she cute??”


    Funny how the prompts become so second nature to us, the prompters, that when suddenly our kids take it away on their own we’re almost literally left with our mouths open. Go Nigel!

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