For Stephanie Skaggs, life is a methodical process of developing routines and calming unforeseeable reactions in her 5-year-old daughter, Baylee.
Baylee is autistic, and “mostly nonverbal,” so it’s hard for kids her age to know that anything is different about her until she has an unexpected outburst, or reacts in a way they don’t understand.
But on this particular day when Stephanie and Baylee were visiting the Kentucky Kingdom water park, two young children struck the Louisville mother in a way she just couldn’t shake.
As she writes on Facebook about their July 22 encounter, Stephanie and Baylee were “practicing very hard on waiting in line” as they made the rounds on the water slide.
“We had a routine. Wait in line.. then when we were 4 from the front, sit on the step, then down into the water then scoot up, then wait at the top of the slide for the ok to go from the lifeguard.”
Stephanie says her daughter was getting the hang of it, and with each time through their routine, Baylee’s understanding and patience increased.
Of course, “children are children,” Stephanie writes, and it wasn’t long before another little one didn’t understand that they needed to wait in line like everyone else. For Baylee, it wasn’t so much that she cared about someone getting to the slide before her, but instead that the routine she and her mom had been working so hard on was now completely “out of whack.”
That’s where Stephanie’s note reaches its purpose. Written to “the mom in the baby water park in Kentucky Kingdom yesterday,” she explains how the saving grace came in the form of a young girl who inexplicably sensed Baylee’s frustration.
“So this happened, and as she was expecting to move up to the next step in the waiting game, and couldn’t, I braced myself for what would happen, and that is when your daughter looked up at me and said ‘she can go ahead of me.’ Baylee had not had an opportunity to get upset yet, so I am not sure exactly why she did it. I felt like maybe she could tell by the way I had been talking to her that she had special needs. It was so sweet and I told her what a sweet girl she was. And we moved on.”
Stephanie says it wasn’t long before the same situation happened again. The water park is busy, and there are kids of all different kinds eagerly stepping up to take their turn on a slide.
This time though, a young boy was in front of them and could tell that Baylee was not understanding why her routine had to be changed again. He offered his spot to Baylee.