I’m so proud of this little guy and I don’t even know him! This is courage. Standing up and speaking out about his condition, advocating for himself…if only we all had such strength and bravery.
He’s only in the 4th grade and understands something that many of us do not, that it’s okay to be different. I love that he embraces his Asperger’s syndrome and recognizes it not as a handicap but as a gift.
I came across this video at the perfect time.
This morning I dropped my son off at Kindergarten and, as I usually do, stood and watched him as he and his classmates ran around the schoolyard prior to going inside.
The other kids played tag and chased each other back and forth. My son did his own thing. He threw himself down in the gravel repeatedly, rolling around and laughing with his little sister. Occasionally he would turn around and watch as a classmate ran by, once or twice he tagged along behind one of them for a moment, not really engaging in their play, then he would split off and go back to the gravel.
At one point a girl came up to him and stood there watching him. Rather than saying “hi” or making some other form of civilized conversation he spit gravel out of his mouth, spittle running down his chin, laughed, did a silly dance, and threw himself back down into the gravel. The girl shrugged and ran off to play with the other kids.
Determined not to hover or intervene I watched from a distance with my heart in my tummy and a lump in my throat. Every fiber of my being wanted to go over to him, wipe the drool from his chin, tell him to stop playing in the gravel and coach him on how to play ‘appropriately’ with his classmates. But I knew that would only undermine his confidence and bring even more attention to his differences. So I stood with my feet planted and I quietly wilted inside.
I came home feeling depressed and defeated. I had visions in my head of him going through school as an outcast, being made fun of by other kids who don’t understand him, not being invited to birthday parties and being the last one picked for games in gym class.
My heart ached for my sweet boy who doesn’t fit in. I determined that I needed to find him some social skills classes and get him involved in some activities at the recreation center.
Then Hartley Steiner of Hartley’s Life With 3 Boys posted the above video on her facebook page.
This little boy reminded me that the things that make us different also make us special and helped me to realize that I shouldn’t try to squash them out of my son in order to fit him into a mold to be like other children. Why in the world would I want him to be just like everyone else anyway!? After all, isn’t it the imperfections that make us beautiful? How can I celebrate a crack in a vase but not celebrate my son for his Sensory Processing Disorder? Sure, he may never fit in but I would much rather him stand out – no, stand UP and proudly proclaim that YES he is imperfect and that’s a good thing.
I will continue to advocate for him and help him build the skills that he needs to get by in the world but I believe that it’s now time for me to also teach him how to advocate for himself and to be proud of himself and own his limitations so they don’t end up owning him.
So ask yourself, what makes you special?
“There is a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in.” ~ Leonard Cohen