For the last year plus, I’ve been practicing learning Spanish; my real interest, or effort, has been in the last 6 months.
While I’ve been learning, “Me llamo, Sarah,” my sister has been learning how to communicate with her third child, who just turned three. He’s always been “quirky”. When he does speak around me or Mr. Muse, it’s very softly, often only a single word and into the top of whatever surface is nearby. Otherwise is grunts and hand gestures. Recently, he was diagnosed with Autism. This didn’t surprise me, though, I knew it’d mean that the family would need to learn a new way of communication.
My nephew is an adorable child, but has always been a bit frustrating because we KNEW he knew what we were saying. His body language showed that he was listening intently to what we wanted or were telling him to do, but his reaction was something from out of left field. His brain just worked differently.
In my line of work, I know and read a lot about Autism and Autistic kids. The first thing I’d like to dispel is:
There is nothing wrong with them.
- Their brain just works differently.
I know deep down that my nephew is very smart. It’s only a matter of teaching my brain that I need to talk to him in a way that HIS brain says, “This makes total sense.”
So, when his “thank you” is a big grin, I say, “You’re welcome.” When he holds my hand, I’m just glad he trusts me enough to do so.
My sister and brother-in-law have their work cut out for them. My nephew has to sleep in the same room with them for now because he’ll get up in the night and run out the door and onto the road if he’s not stopped. He knows no danger.
And that’s a good reminder for those of us who deal with textbook “normal” every day. We never know what someone else is dealing with.
My nephew, he’s got a big support network behind him. People who won’t let him fall through the cracks. Others? They aren’t so lucky.
Let us all do at least a little bit to learn a new language every day. Whether it’s Spanish, Italian, or otherwise, let’s just do our parts.