I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the show “The Golden Girls”.

Stay with me for a moment…

I was recently reading one of my favorite blogs written by my new friend Partly Sunny. I call her my friend even though I’ve never met her and have only “conversed” with her through our blogs and by e-mail. She has a perspective on all things autism that is different from mine, and recently she asked me if she was upsetting me with some of her comments. My response was of course not, that I respected her opinions and point of view, and I found her comments to be refreshing and important to hear.

All this started me thinking about my new community of parents with kids on the spectrum and parents of kids with sensory processing disorder (and in so many cases, these parents are one and the same). We listen to each others’ stories, comment on them, and then tell our own and get our own comments. I’ve been lucky enough to meet an amazing group of parents out there in cyberspace and in person. I enjoy hearing their stories and others do me the favor of listening to mine.

And for some reason, all of my new friends reminded me of the show “The Golden Girls”.

Still with me?

“The Golden Girls” was a show back in the mid to late 1980’s about four older women living in Miami. Each woman had a distinct personality and role on the show. I’ll out myself as a faithful watcher those Saturday nights through high school (now you know how exciting my life was back then). There was Dorothy, played by Bea Arthur, the voice of reason in the group and clearly the one in charge. Her mother, Sophia, was played by Estelle Getty, and was the wise-cracking sarcastic one, yet lovable in her own way. There was Blanche, the sassy southern belle man-chaser with a heart of gold played by Rue McClanahan. And my favorite, played by Betty White, was Rose. She was naive and took everything literally. She was the sweetheart of the group and the one they protected the most from the outside world.

So on Saturday nights for seven years (and for decades in syndication), these women entertained America. On the surface, they had very little in common and disagreed on a lot. Yet they had a formed a bond stronger than those disagreements, and at the end of every episode there was some sort of group hug.

That’s what this amazing community feels like to me.

I read a lot of blogs and websites and have the good fortune to have people reading mine, and have made many friends along the way. We have our voices of reason like Dorothy who guide us in the right direction. There are the wise-crackers like Sophia who are always there with a joke or comment to make us laugh. There are the sassy Blanches with the heart of gold. And of course, our sweet Roses who will always say the nicest things to make us feel better, even when the situation is dire and sad. We disagree on a lot – the causes of autism, what treatment methods to use, and whether or not we should look for a cure. In many ways we have almost nothing in common. To extrapolate on a saying “if you’ve met one parent of an autistic child, you’ve met ONE parent of an autistic child”. Yet remarkably we have one strong bond: the desire to be there for each other in whatever way we can. Because we “get it”. Because we’ve been there. And because we need people to be there for us.

Just like the end of every “Golden Girls” episode, each night before I go to bed I feel like I’m getting a big group hug from everyone out there. Every comment that I read, either on my blog or on others, reminds me that people care. Every text or e-mail I get from my friends shows me that I’m not alone. Each day my faith in humanity is restored by the Dorothys, Sophias, Blanches and Roses out there in cyberspace and in my daily life.

Thank you all for being my friends.

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true your a pal and a confidant.

And if you through a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say thank you for being a friend.
” – Thank you for Being a Friend by Andrew Gold (Golden Girls Version)