Saturday, August 4, 2012

One Word, Two Worlds

My son is high functioning.  Therefore, I walk a fine line every day…sometimes tipping towards the “typical” world, sometimes towards the “special needs” world.

Which do I prefer?

Special needs.



Because they…the people that live with, care for and teach these amazing children and adults…understand.

They understand…


Do you know how comforting it is to be surrounded by people who understand?

All of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

You relax.  You breathe.  You allow yourself a moment.

Even if it is just a moment…

It is those moments that I was so desperately searching for this past week while I was away at Boy Scout camp with Sean.

Sometimes I found them…most often in the young counselors.  I would introduce Sean and tell them he was autistic.  Then, as if some silent prayer had been answered, they would say, “Cool.  I just volunteered at a special needs camp last week.”

Take a breath.  Breathe…

They got it.  They understood.

Sean would be safe in their hands and I could have my moment.

Later on I’d return to our campsite with Sean and march off to the dining hall with all the other scouts.

Back to the “typical” world… the scary world…the world of so many unknowns…

When Sean would become overwhelmed by the dozens of scouts around him, all chattering away, controlled chaos reigning around him…

Would they understand how he had to hold tight to me to calm him?

When he would sit there after meal time and wouldn’t move when he was told to clean up because no one had broken down the instructions to their basics…put the plates in the rack, get a bucket, wipe the table…

Would they not think he was lazy and trying to get out of work?

And when he needed to use the bathroom because he was either nervous and seeking a quiet refuge or clearly had a biological need to go…

Would they let him?

The answer is…


They won’t understand.  They won’t get it.  They won’t let him go.

And when raised voices have quieted…

When tears have dried…

There is no need to feel sorry for me because I do not understand.

I understand so much more than you…

I understand that children do not have to be placed solely in either the special needs world or the typical world.

I understand that my child, like most special needs children, has one of the purest souls and he has the ability… the capability… of being in either world.

And when you encounter him in the “typical” world you should listen and learn…open your heart…

Be grateful that he came for a visit…

And at least try to understand.

That is, after all, all anyone can ask for.

And that is exactly what my child truly deserves.


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