Thursday, April 3, 2014
What Do We Teach the Other 67?
Those CDC numbers continue to haunt and my heart hurts for the families of the newly diagnosed...those mommies and daddies of the one in 68. Change is hard and their lives are about to be pummeled with changes. Still, they will have a plan. Doctors and therapists and educators will surround the newly diagnosed with appointments and evaluations and therapeutic exercises.
Their lives will be much different but they will have a plan for their child's success.
I wonder sometimes about the other 67...the typical ones. I wonder what we as a society should be teaching those other 67 children who will most definitely be affected by the ever growing numbers of their peers who are diagnosed with autism.
Humans are instinctively afraid of what is different and of what they don't understand. Our humanity also gives us a driving sense of competition and of first dibs. We as people are preoccupied with ourselves. We are the stars of our own reality show.
But thank God for children. Children have all of those same tendencies but they are softened by curiosity. They see differences but look for similarities. Their souls bear the light of innocence and they have a wonderful indescribable capacity for love.
What about those other 67 typical children? What shall we teach them? What do we want for them? What do we want for our children with autism? Their futures are tied. These typical children will form the world where our affected children will live.
Some quickly answer that we want to hone the math and science skills of our typical children so that medical advances may be found and cures may be derived.
Math and science are marvelous endeavors...
And they are meaningless....without a heart that listens and loves and cares.
The future of Isaac and all of the others like him...the one is 68....will be determined by our ability to foster love in the other 67. It is imperative that we teach them the value of life. We need to go beyond basic knowledge and fill their days with lessons of love.
The children who are diagnosed with autism undergo hours and hours of instruction in imitation, in speech, in motor development and in social skills.
Our typical children need to spend time being taught to find joy in the differences of those around them, to seek opportunities to demonstrate love, to take the initiative to help and to see the beauty of shared experiences with all people of all abilities.
It is our responsibility to present the curricula of love. We are tasked with the awesome responsibility to teach value and love and kindness. How? Surround ourselves and our little ones with those qualities we seek to teach. Guard their environment as much as is possible. Inundate it with kindness. Grow their innocence. Show them that everyone matters...a lot. Teach the little ones that it is not always about them. Teach them love. Keep up with what they hear and what they see. Have hard conversations. Accept our responsibility to be examples and fill our own lives with love.
Love begets love. Love begets light. Love begets hope.
The hope for the one in 68 depends on the love we foster in the other 67.