You can listen to a recording of this post by scrolling to the end.
Gotta love kids right? Since having a son with Autism, I’ve seen a whole new side of children I hadn’t seen before. I’ve worked with kids for years, I’ve been a teacher and a nanny, and only since watching kids and how they interact with Jeremiah did I gain a whole new perspective.
Kids accept each other, despite what obstacles stand in the way.
What obstacles might that be? Well, Jeremiah can’t talk, he doesn’t play with other kids (he’s only beginning to parallel play, meaning play next to other kids, not with them), he doesn’t usually smile at other kids, he doesn’t share what he’s playing with, and I will reiterate that first point again, he doesn’t talk. I feel that point is so important because our society in general doesn’t easily make friends with people who don’t talk, but not only doesn’t Jeremiah talk, he can’t communicate.
You would think even in a child’s world commonalities and similar interests would bring two kids together and they would want to be friends. This isn’t so with Jeremiah and his little friends. Jeremiah is usually in his own world, he’s slowly breaking free from it, but he doesn’t engage with these other children who consider him their friend.
Two years ago, when Jeremiah was three, he started preschool. A girl named Zoe quickly became his best friend. Zoe even called him her boyfriend. Jeremiah had no clue which is the most adorable part. Okay, there are more adorable parts. Zoe is a sweet girl, a tiny little thing, so cute, has leg braces, and uses a pint-sized wheel chair. Love her. And, she loves Jeremiah, they’re now in their third year of preschool together. I think it’s a lifelong friendship, maybe they’ll even get married. 😉 That’s just a little of the Mommy of a child with Autism hoping for the future.
The other day when I picked Jeremiah up from school, a boy in his class said good-bye to Jeremiah, then proceeded to tell me, “I know Jeremiah.” I was thrilled. This boy “knows” my son, my son who doesn’t talk, or reciprocate relationships. Well, he does reciprocate a little, he likes sitting by Miss Zoe in circle-time.
My brother-in-law, Rob, once said, “Kids and dogs.” This was after Jeremiah let him hold him during a time in Jeremiah’s life when only mom, dad, and Grandmas and Grandpas could hold him. We told Rob we couldn’t believe Jeremiah went to him, and then he made that statement, meaning that kids and dogs know people, they have intuition for who someone is.
These kids know Jeremiah and the sweet spirit he has. They like him for who he is, even if he can’t communicate, play swords, or if he eats the play dough. They accept him. They’re learning through being in class with special needs children that we are all unique and different in some way, and acceptance is part of everyday life.
No, not all kids give Jeremiah attention, but then not all kids are friends and get along with everyone, neither do adults. However, I’ve been surprised and pleased each time a child is aware of Jeremiah, says “Hi” to him, or tells me they like him. What joy it gives me to know that kids like my son, who happens to have Autism. Many of them will grow up with him, go through school with him, and hopefully stand by him if he’s ever bullied. I’m very grateful to these kids, kids who are only doing what is natural, before the rest of the world and it’s judgements get in the way.
Another example of this acceptance is in the picture at the top of this post. It’s Jeremiah and his sister. She’s now an amazing special needs advocate, compassionate with those who have special needs, and is in tune to their needs. I write more about her and her relationship with her brother in the post, Hurting Children CAN Develop Empathy.
Does your child with special needs have friends? Does this surprise you?
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My daughter has an amazing ability to see through and past things to the real person. I credit this to having a brother with autism. She accepts all of him and each of the children in her life — everyone is unique and some she connect with better than others. But she will always defend someone who needs her support and accepts everyone for who they are. It can be hard to see sometimes but autism has brought a lot of positives to our lives.
Thank you for sharing. I hope your comment goes on to encourage others to support inclusion!