I work day in and day out with children who have an array of disabilities. Truth be known, no two children are ever the same, despite the same labeled disabilities. What fascinates yet mystifies me at the same time, is our inability to see things the way that they do.
Many children I work with have selective oral expression. But I feel we learn more from them than I do from co-workers, friends, and family. Sometimes we educational assistants, teachers, special education teachers, respite workers and so on, get so caught up in societal rules of normalcy that we often don’t take the time to see the things that we can learn from our students. This leads me to my story.
As I was walking along a hiking trail with a little Autistic boy, I was watching him look all over the place and smelling things. I was trying to get him to touch certain items like tree moss or water by the river, but the touch was a very difficult sensation for him. He is highly touched sensitive. So I kept trying to say things like “Look at that flower, let’s go smell and touch it”. Every time his response would be “No thank you.”
We finished the hike and went back to the classroom to write down a few things in categories. We separated what we saw, what we heard, and what we felt. Having no problem with the first two categories, we moved on to the “What We Felt” section.
To be quite honest, I didn’t know what he was going to write since he didn’t want to touch any of the items. So I told him to leave it blank. But, by that time I said that it was already filled in. I figured that he probably wrote down what he saw me touching, such as the tree moss, branches, and water.
But when I read his answer the two things he wrote down that he felt; were the hot sun on my face, and a soft wind flowing past my ears when we stopped walking to take a rest.
How profound was that! I was so proud of his answers! Perhaps we should all take the time to feel the wind.
By Jennifer De Franceschi
* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user-contributed heartwarming stories, that shine a light on the Autism experience.