Letter from the Editor – April 2021April 1, 2021 I’ve been watching spring evolve from my kitchen window, as I do every year. The enormous sycamore tree that’s taller than our 3-story house is budding and more bright chartreuse-green leaves unfurl every day before my eyes. Sycamores have been my favorite tree since childhood, with their broad, leafy canopies and the clean, woodsy fragrance of their leaves, especially after a heavy rain. Another sign of spring is the migratory birds returning, and in the early mornings I’ve been seeing little finches and cedar waxwings among my sycamore’s leaves. The birds give me great joy as I watch them while sipping my morning iced coffee. With COVID vaccinations well underway, it’s like my whole world is reopening this spring. I’ve had both my jabs and gratefully so. Already I’ve enjoyed strolling through NOMA’s exhibits and met friends for beignets at Cafe du Monde in City Park (safely still masked, of course). These forays have filled me with hope for living a more normal life soon and I’m not feeling so forlorn, as I was over the winter months. I’m looking forward to getting out more in the months ahead and resuming more normal activities. In this issue, we recognize Autism "Acceptance" Month with a variety of articles. In Wiggle Room, our regular contributor and pediatric occupational therapist, Kimberly Bradley discusses how to recognize the signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder and what to do if childhood milestones are missed. Our monthly Spotlight feature explores Chartwell Center, which has been serving the needs of autism spectrum students and their families since 1999. And this month’s Dad About Town, Chef Michael Gulotta shares his inside coop on being dad to twin autistic boys. Last, Gear to Get features engaging items that help children – including those with sensory challenges – actively use and develop their senses. We’re also thrilled to feature NOLA Gymnastics and the work of Coach Ivan Ivanov, whose acrobatic gymnastic teams have been recognized with medals at both U.S. and international competitions since 2016. NOLA Gymnastics has consistently topped our annual list of Family Favorites and we’re always happy to share local success stories. Last, we recognize that I’m not the only one who wants life back to normal; parents and kids everywhere need a break and a healthy release. Our contributor Catherine Menendez (herself a camp director) explores “Why Summer Camp is Now More Important Than Ever,” detailing how camp experiences – particularly post-pandemic – can help our kids grow emotionally, physically, and relationally. Hope you and your family are enjoying this spring. Thanks for being part of our Nola Family!