I don’t like the terms different or special to describe a person with an illness or disorder. I prefer to talk about EVERYONE being different and individual. I guess it comes from having a parent with huntington’s disease and people staring and whispering under their breath. Just because someone looks different to you, doesn’t make it ok to comment and often judge. In the early days people often thought Dad was drunk. I would often become frustrated and wished people would take a second glance and realise that he was challenged but no less a human being.
These frustrations have remained with me since my step son was diagnosed with aspergers. It has not been easy but with patience and understanding J is growing into a wonderful little person. He is almost 9 and has a reading age of 14. He is an intelligent and a very inquisitive boy. He is older than his years in most senses and often shocks me with his knowledge. J always goes to bed with no fuss and always wakes with a smile on his face. Aspergers can make a child unresponsive to kindness and love. It can make a child dislike physical contact too. However, J always bounds in with a cuddle for me in the mornings and when we pick him up for our time with him. The love we show him is often reciprocated and although he is an only child he loves spending time with his cousins. His social inadequacies are slowly getting less and less.
We have always told J that having aspergers is not an excuse for bad behaviour and bad behaviour will not go unpunished. We treat him no different than we would if he didn’t have aspergers. He often says ‘I’m special’ which is always met with the same reply… ‘We are all special’.
At the weekend we were in the lego shop at Bluewater and J wanted to spend some of his pocket money. We encourage him to queue up and pay for his purchase on his own whilst we look on. He gave the sales assistant his money and when he received his change he promptly put it into the autistic society collection on the counter. He said to the sales assistant ‘ I am putting my change in here as I am autistic’. Her response was first of shock but then of kindness as she thanked him and gave him a lovely smile.
Kindness and love costs nothing. Whether someone is challenged or not we should all treat each other as equals. Special and individual.
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