Friday 28 November 2014

Different, or Typical. Which is more amazing?

Yesterday, I had the chance to do some Christmas shopping in a place I love. Instead of doing that, I chose to indulge in my favourite occupation. People watching. 

I am always amazed by how different and individual people are (and boy do they look Different with a capital D down Oxford Street!). When we were first given the diagnosis for Sasha, one of the first things I did was to stop and marvel at how amazing Tamsin is, and all the other typical children like her. In fact, how amazing all adults are, as we've all obviously been through that childhood stage!

Typical children learn so much in their young years, and plenty of what we learn is without ever being specifically taught it. For example, who told you not to stand right next to someone, touching them, when you're talking to them? Who defined personal space for you? There are some unwritten rules, and on top of that there are rules which are not even spoken about.

I never told Tamsin not to throw a whole toilet roll down the toilet, yet she never did. She made it through her toddler years without having that urge, until she was old enough to understand that it was wrong and wouldn't do it for that reason. Likewise with drawing on walls. Sasha did both these things, because it never occurred to me to tell her not to. I appreciate that there are plenty of toddlers who are not diagnosed with autism who do write on walls; there are not so many who don't learn not to after the first couple of times of being told. 

Did you ever specifically tell your toddler that the person running the music session was in charge and therefore we should all do what she says? Well, I never had to tell Tamsin that, she just watched, and listened, and learned. Amazing, although I didn't think so at the time. That's what most children do, nothing special about that. 

It didn't work like that for Sasha though. Even when we explained these 'rules', Sasha never really understood why she should follow them. So she didn't mostly. If you're into neurology, I think it could be quite fascinating - something to do with the front left (or right?) of the brain not developing in the same way.

All the people I saw yesterday out on the busy Christmas shopping streets got me thinking. What is really so bad about being different? Everyone has something to offer, it's just a case of unlocking the potential. For some that is more difficult, but it doesn't mean they are any less worthy of a place in this world.

I just have to steer Sasha through the difficult school years ahead and protect her somehow from the inevitable bullying. I can help her by spreading awareness and helping others to understand her difficulties, and by not hiding her away. Maybe sometimes I will feel like hiding myself, but I'm sure I'll push on through.

Hopefully, at the other end of it, she will be loved and appreciated for who she is, once out in that big, bad grown up world. I hope she loves herself too. Acceptance is the goal.

As parents, isn't that what we all want for all our children?

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