Our roller coaster ride of autism parenting has brought us plenty of ups and downs but the latest round of school progress reports has brought us to a new high.

Brooks is finally becoming more comfortable at school: talking to his peers and actually forging friendships with them, something we’ve been working on since pre-K. We understand exactly what this transformation can be attributed to: a gifted team of teachers and therapists who take the time to carefully develop his personalized goals (most recently: “I will talk to my friends at appropriate times”), his work with our longtime weekly psychologist outside of school who always listens and helps beyond reasonable expectations (and who has reported how incredibly happy Brooks has been during their past few sessions), and the ingredient each one of us brings in heaping amounts, without which there can be no forward movement: patience.

We are a long way from unbelting our seats—sharp turns and loop-de-loops may certainly be part of our future—but for this moment, the air is clear and the view is spectacular.

Even more so when Brooks came home from school recently with this self-portrait.