The best part of sending our kids to a special school for autistic kids, in my opinion, is meeting the other parents. Whenever there's a school recital or a bring-your-parents-to-school day, we think nothing of seeing a kid (ours or someone else's) having a massive meltdown, or stimming, or running away. We all have a big laugh about it or ignore it completely, as the situation warrants. No awkward silences, nosey questions or bewildered misunderstandings: we all understand autism enough to deal with the usual autistic things. Everything seems so normal here.
The best example of our mutual understanding was around this time last year, when Gaston went to a classmate's birthday party. Our first classroom birthday party, it was to be on a Saturday afternoon at a McDonald's near the school. The little girl having the party, it turns out, is a twin. And her twin, also autistic, wasn't in Gaston's class, so his class also got invited to the party. There were over a dozen autistic kids at this party!
At one point, I noticed the McDonald's staff members trying to engage the kids in some sort of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey game, and getting absolutely no love for their effort. The kids were just playing in the children's play area, melting down when they were given the wrong colour of balloon (or maybe that was just Gaston) and eating ice cream cake. Basically just acting like autistic kids.
I approached the birthday twins' mother and jokingly said "Look at those poor teenagers trying to get the kids to play an organised game. Didn't you tell them the kids are autistic? Ha ha." She gave me a conspiratorial smile and said "No, I didn't." We both burst out laughing.