“I’ve tried everything with her, and she just doesn’t seem to want to play with the other kids,” the behavioral therapist stated with a tone of defeat. As the child’s summer camp counselor, what could I do? I was no expert in child behavior, nor had I any knowledge of therapy techniques. After all, I was just barely starting out my major in communication disorders.

Each day, I observed this young camper Chloe and her interests. She had a resting face that seemed to present itself as a scowl. I saw her shift from one side of the sensory table with others to playing on her own with play dough. Staring up into the sky, she seemed to be in her own world swinging back and forth on the swing set. She was just six years old, diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

As I sat watching all the other campers play with each other and Chloe swinging by herself, I remembered something brief I learned in my introduction class to the major the fall prior. This something I remembered was not a fact, a memorized quote, or a passage from a textbook. But rather, it was the feeling I got in class as we learned about children diagnosed with ASD. A feeling of love for this child filled my entire being sending shivers up my spine. I knew I had to do something to help her make a friend.

Gathering the campers around, I led a group game of hide and go seek. The kids squealed with joy, their eyes darting around already scouting out their hiding spots. Chloe glanced up from the swing to see what the commotion was about. 

“One . . . Two . . . Three . . .” I started counting. The campers ran frantically to hide. When I opened my eyes, Chloe was no longer in her swing. I began to look, finding the first child hiding behind a pole like an elephant attempting not to be seen. Suddenly, I heard a giggle coming from behind a nearby tree. To my surprise, Chloe was with another camper laughing and running off to the next tree trying not to get caught.

To me, character stems from a sense of love for another child of God. Character entails continual effort, despite a track record of disappointment. It is purposefully choosing not to be discouraged, but rather hopeful in both thought and action. It is here at Brigham Young University where I learned from professors and faculty what it means to think celestially and to use that pattern of thought in serving others. This coming April as I graduate and continue along the path God has led me on, I will trust not in all that I know, but all that I have become through my education here at BYU. I look forward to the many other children with ASD and others that I will come to know, love, and be inspired by, in my own professional practice as a speech-language pathologist.