In a room full of people speaking Russian, you are the only one who does not speak or understand that language. Some are loud and boisterous, some tensed and a few roaring with laughter. What do you do? They are looking at you, pointing towards you, asking you questions you don’t understand, making gestures that you feel incapable of comprehending as they vary across cultures. What do you do?
You look for visual cues, for a kind face, a smile, a quiet place to organise your thoughts. You try and seek the familiar amongst all that is otherwise.
Every day a special child is faced with such a situation socially. He is pushed out of his comfort zone into the unknown and just like you he hopes for a kind face, a smile and a hand that says, ‘We can try together – you and I’. If you are willing to be that face and that hand for him, he can also teach you so much more than you ever thought possible.
Just by being around them and seeing them try so hard, it becomes difficult not to exceed your own limitations. I am a quiet person. I can address issues on mail, I can write stories and I can make posters about autism awareness, but when it comes to advocacy in the form of public presentations that involve talking in front of a crowd (read more than 3 people) I panic. That’s usually when I think of all the special children I know. I am not thinking of just their needs, I am gaining confidence from them, from seeing them try to make sense of a world that does not function in a manner they can follow. I tell myself, “Just like them, I can do this” and I let the first words flow out of me. It is a gift to be working with special children and I feel lucky that I have the opportunity.
This post is dedicated to the special people who help us to look at the world humanely. They give another angle to the debate of intolerance, they jump out of their boxes and pull us out of ours.