My son, Sky, and I moved from California to Georgia. Dressing up as his favorite video game character helped relieve Sky’s anxiety while adjusting to his new environment. Two years passed before Sky would wear anything else.
Preparing for Change
Sky had Autism Spectrum Disorder. Structure and familiarity helped him navigate a neurotypical world. Significant changes were especially tricky for Sky to process.
To help Sky prepare for two thousand miles of change, I told him he could select a treat for his new home. Sky asked if I would buy him special clothes for Georgia. He wanted the costume his favorite video game character, Link, wore in Zelda; Ocarina of Time.
Sky and I had been playing Zelda; Ocarina of Time together since he was four-years-old. I thought the costume was an excellent idea and the perfect gift for my brave adventurer!
I found soft brown pants, an oversized hunter green tee-shirt, and a belt online. I also crafted Sky a hat. I mailed the Link costume to our new address. It would arrive soon after we did.
New Home, New Rules
Being in an unfamiliar place gave rise to a lot of challenges for Sky. He was used to being an only child. We’d moved in with my sister and her two kids, so suddenly, Sky was one of three.
Sky was pleased to be with his aunt and cousins. Nonetheless, he missed his California friends and was confused by new rules in a new household.
Sky began to lock up inside himself. Instead of his typical outgoing and bubbly personality, Sky was quiet and standoffish.
I went online and ordered ten large hunter green tees. I also bought several pairs of brown pants.
About a week and a half after Sky and I moved to Georgia, Sky’s Link ensemble arrived. As soon as Sky put on the costume, he was his happy, bubbly self again.
Mom’s Big Idea
The next day, Sky wore his Link outfit again. I didn’t mind it, since it made him happy. Sky attempted to wear the costume on the third day, also, but it needed washing. He begrudgingly put on other clothing and promptly shut back down.
I had an idea. I went online and ordered ten large hunter green tee-shirts. I also bought several pairs of brown pants. Boots were harder to find, but I finally found some small women’s boots that would be practical for daily wear.
Sky was delighted with his new wardrobe.
My Name is Link Sky
At first, I wondered if I’d made the right decision. Sky seemed obsessed with being Link in an almost unhealthy way when he was feeling high anxiety.
He began to insist that I couldn’t call him Sky.
“I’m not Sky, Mum. I’m Link Sky!”
It concerned me a little, but I decided to go with it. After all, Link Sky’s personality was precisely like Sky’s, only with less anxiety. I reached out to my little guy with both arms.
“Okay, Buddy. I hope Link Sky gives hugs!”
“Link Sky gives a MILLION hugs, Mum!”
A New Superhero in Town
At first, Sky required every element of the Link Sky costume. After some months passed, he only wore the hat on occasion. Months later, Sky became okay with tennis shoes. Eventually, Sky was fine with jeans or shorts.
Every item that Link Sky stopped wearing daily went into a backpack. Sky kept the backpack with him at all times in case he needed to change. The last piece of the Link Sky outfit to go into the backpack was the hunter green shirt.
For several months, we couldn’t go anywhere without that backpack.
Sky packed the tee away and told me he needed to “go incognito” during his everyday life. Link Sky had evolved into an alter-ego — a superhero.
“I will keep Link Sky clothes in my bag just in case any bad guys show up, and I need to kick their butt!”
For several months, we couldn’t go anywhere without that backpack. I even had a backup bag with a second Link Sky costume stowed away in the car in case we forgot the original.
Farewell Link Sky
One day, Sky brought the backpack to me and asked me to find a safe place for it.
“I still want to keep this in case I feel like dressing up as Link, but I don’t need it anymore.”
I watched my son walk outside, in a red tee-shirt and blue shorts. I packed away his costume and couldn’t help but get a little teary-eyed. I was going to miss Link Sky.
I heard the bubbling laughter of children and peeked outside. I watched my son tumble around on our trampoline with his cousins, rosy-cheeked and happy.
I wiped my eyes and smiled.
“Welcome back, Sky.”
A Note from the Author
Every story I share about Sky is done with his permission. I share these stories in the hope that we can bring awareness about the everyday life of a kid on the Autism Spectrum and the people he loves. Sky is 100% on board for that.
I double-check with Sky about specific stories, but I’m generally met with a deadpan response and blank stare.
“I already said you can write about me. You don’t have to keep asking. I trust your judgement.”
I still ask him, anyway.
He’s sixteen now, so eyes will roll.
P.S. Sky still loves Zelda.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person’s life. It affects how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates, and learns. It includes what used to be known as Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders - MedlinePlus
Neurotypical (NT) means having a style of neurocognitive functioning that falls within the dominant societal standards of “normal.”
Neurotypical can be used as either an adjective (“He’s neurotypical”) or a noun (“He’s a neurotypical”).- Neurocosmopolitanism
Neurodivergent (ND): having a brain that functions in ways that diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal.” -Neurocosmopolitanism