Although I am just a baby sitter, I consider myself a “parent” to Ryan, a vivacious 6-year-old NASCAR-obsessed boy with autism.
The limited amount of time I’ve spent with Ryan has shown me more of him than I had ever imagined. Ryan is energetic yet spontaneous, eager yet hesitant, and driven yet limited—all of which then can lead to frustration, screaming, hitting, crying, and the occasional meltdown.
But despite the challenges, each day with him is a dazzling adventure. I never spend a single moment bored when I’m with Ryan; he keeps me on my toes while laughing and smiling all the way. I love the way he says his sister Caroline’s name—“Cah-wo-wine”—and how he jumps up and down, screaming with joy when he sees her around camp; their relationship warms my heart.
I love his hugs, the way his voice hitches when he’s excited, and the way he can stun complete strangers with his incredible reading skills and unlimited memory. Watching Ryan grow last year was an experience that I will treasure, and will build upon this summer when our adventure begins again.
By Kaity Meagher, Babysitter to Ryan, 6