My son may not talk like others. He may not behave as people would expect. He may appear distant and uninterested. He may even seem content in the world in which his mind resides, without need of companionship or conversation.
But regardless of what is seen on the outside, there is a real human boy on the inside. A boy who feels hurt, disappointment and loneliness. A boy who desires friendship and love. A boy who has goals and dreams for his future.
A boy who people (adults included) see, but rarely talk to.
What they see, is a boy who doesn’t care for interaction. When they speak to him, they see an ’empty’ stare and assume that their words are not understood. Those same words that they also feel go unheard and cause them to question why they even took the time. Only a few wait around for the response, which although delayed, will come…but they’ll never know that.
“That was a waste of time,” they think as they walk away.
What they see however, is very different than what I see.
I see his eyes brighten up when they speak to him and the thoughts racing through his mind as he searches for a way to respond. I see the smile that spreads across his face as they walk away. A smile caused by the simple act of their interaction with him.
After they’re gone, I hear him talk about what they said. I hear him giggle for minutes, sometimes even hours, as memories of their words come back to him. The excitement from a simple “hello” stays with him well after it is spoken.
But, it’s not only his happiness that I hear. I also hear his disappointments, concerns and sadness.
I see the hurt in his eyes when people walk past him without acknowledging his presence. I see his loneliness as he watches everyone have conversations on the opposite side of the room. I see the confusion on his face when people are gathered to do an activity, but no one invites him to come along.
I see his head lower in sadness, when everyone walks away.
“Treat others as you would like to be treated.”
That same love, kindness and respect that you desire from others – people who are ‘different’ desire and need that too.
Take it from me, a mother of a teenage son with Autism, even a simple “hello” has a much bigger impact than you could possibly imagine.
Thank you to everyone who has ever taken even a moment to talk to or get to know someone who is ‘different’ than them. Thank you to everyone who has ever made a statement similar to the one that inspired this post…
“He’s a good kid. He kind of needs a friend.”