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Published on Feb 24, 2014
During a visit to the National Zoo my son was thrilled to discover that a sea lion wanted to play, and what happened next was adorable. He is autistic*, and needed a little coaching at first to understand that she wanted to follow him back and forth across the glass. Once he “got it” the two had great fun together, and he declared, “This is the BEST THING OF MY LIFE!" Playing with the sea lion was so easy, and it made him so incredibly happy, that it brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me of all the times that it wasn't easy when he tried to play with neurotypical peers. I wished people would be as accepting as animals often are.
My son and I talked and we decided to post the video online because it was cute, and because it might spread a message of autism acceptance. And yes, my son refers to himself as *autistic. An increasing number of neurodivergent individuals actually prefer identity-first language.
Also, despite how it looks in the video my other son got a chance to play, too. We just wanted to give each child a chance to interact individually with our new sea lion friend.