If You Don't Understand
Just a few short years ago, I was in your shoes. I watched as I saw a child spinning like a top outside the playground and shook my head. I didn't understand. Even having a mother who taught special needs children, I didn't get it. I feared the unknown. Even working with disabled children at camps, I didn't really get it. They went home at the end of the day. I was certain I could do it better. I was certain I could help "fix" them.
Truth be told, there was nothing to fix and getting into these amazing lives is a gift. Its an opportunity to learn and an opportunity to enable my own children to make tomorrow a better place for children who just are not the same. Lucky for me, I had mentors. I had women willing to let me into their child's life and begin to understand and in that understanding a rebirth of who I am was born. I gave birth to my greatest teacher. She's tiny and mighty. She has a smile that will light up a room. She's bright. She's funny and she has become the most incredible gift to enter our lives. All my kids will agree.
Taking this little gift out isn't easy. There are days she's amazing. There are days when you would never imagine what we go through at home but then there are OTHER days. Days when I see moms pulling their kids away. I hear adults asking me to discipline more, to take charge to get her to comply. As if I haven't considered every option under the sun. I have read more books than I can count. I have laid in bed awake at night wondering if I brought a child into the world and have failed her? I have considered changing diets, adding supplements, using oils and anything else you can imagine to help my sweet girl. I don't mind listening to your kind thoughts, your ideas on how to help and your creative ways to give my child an easier life. I know it comes from a good place.
What I do mind is the ignorance of mothers not willing to listen and learn. I do mind judgement before considering an opportunity to ask and learn. I do mind blank stares, unkind comments and utter disdain for me and my child as you think your cherub is absolutely perfect. Truth be told, my cherub is perfect too. She was created to be this way, to live a life that is exceptional. She was created to be a teacher. Many of us search for years trying to figure out our place in life, she, like so many others was born into her destiny. Perhaps that in itself is a gift. Yesterday, I stood by as a mother was bullied by another mother. I would have stepped in but I felt myself warming. My ears were hot and I was concerned that my actions may embarrass this woman whom I had just met. Her child was involved in a slight playground misunderstanding and instead of listening to the mom and supporting her in her courage to share her child's diagnosis she was ridiculed by another mother. She told her perhaps she shouldn't bring her child to events. Really? Keep her child at home unable to live and share in childhood events? You want her to keep this child aside so that they cannot enjoy life? Who are you to say this? Until we walk in the shoes of another person we truly do not understand however we do have the opportunity to learn, to be more aware and above all to be kind. Perhaps in instances like these, where we don't understand, this is an opportunity for YOU as an outsider to learn. Perhaps this is a way for you to become more understanding. Maybe you have questions you never had answered because the time never presented itself. This is the time. Perhaps this is an opportunity to teach your own child that understanding and knowledge pushes fear and anger out of the way to allow for a better tomorrow. The tomorrow you hope your child will grow up in to.
Today more than ever, I feel compelled to speak out candidly about children who are differently abled. I feel compelled to share our own autism journey and help others to understand our daily life and how you can get a birds eye view into our world. In learning, if you take the time to understand, to accept and to learn, I guarantee your life will be enriched and better for it.