"Inclusion" is a beautiful word, yet many still struggle with putting it into action. One autistic boy was struggling with this, but a card came in the mail that transformed everything.
It's difficult for parents of special needs to watch their children struggle through life. There is a list of challenges for autistic kids and adults.
These include sensory overload and aversion to certain types of food. One of their main difficulties is socializing with their neurotypical peers.
Timothy. | Source: youtube.com/watchjoJo
A PUZZLING DILEMMA
But, like any other person, autistic people need to be embraced, cared for, and included. As Tricia Klein, the Canadian mother to an autistic child, Timothy expressed in her blog in 2015:
"We parents…know only too well the hurts our kids feel when they are left out of the social gatherings relative to childhood."
She has said that her son sincerely wanted to be part of the gatherings. But, because he is autistic, he can become overwhelmed by too many people.
His mom said he repeatedly opens and closes doors for hours when overwhelmed by these stressors. This led to a catch-22 for Klein when Timothy, who was 7-years-old at the time, got invited to parties.
Timothy was diagnosed with non-verbal autism. So, on top of the usual hurdles that many with neurodivergence face, he also struggles to talk.
Of course, with this combination of overwhelm in social gatherings and her son's struggle with talking, Klein would be left in a bind.
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"I wonder if the parents know what would happen if I brought Timothy? The interruptions....the meltdowns.....how I would hate to take the spotlight from the birthday child."
She said her son had been asked to come to multiple birthday parties every year. But, because of her worries, her son had not attended any of them.
"LET'S MAKE IT WORK"
But Timothy and his mom were in for a big surprise when she received a peculiar birthday card from a boy at her son's school. It said:
"Carter sat beside Timothy at school, and he always talks about him. I really hope he can come."
Of course, if it had ended here, Klein may not have said yes to the invitation, once again wondering what the reality would look like if they went.
But, she was surprised at what she read next by the anonymous mother – an offer that left her highly emotional. The card read:
"Maybe Timothy can come earlier in the day if it would too much with the whole class. Let me know so we can make it work."
Klein was shocked by her fellow parent's offer to accommodate her son and his autism, saying, "It was an ugly cry for me that day."
Of course, she said yes, and her happy son played with his friend after arriving earlier, enjoying himself on the bounce castle with Carter. Talking about the letter and the difference it made, the mother stated:
"I never thought that the words 'Let's make it work' would impact my life forever."
Now not only had Timothy found a friend he could develop a deeper bond with, but Klein became good friends with Carter's mom too. She said the gesture made her believe in humanity once again.
Klein has stated that she wishes that all kids feel included, even if they are considered different from what is considered "normal."
This lesson should not only apply to children but adults as well. Instead of excluding those we deem strange, we should join minds and hearts to answer the question, how can we make this work?
A LONG ROAD
Inclusivity is becoming better in a significant number of countries around the world. But, the journey here has been filled with many hurdles. This is from dealing with many issues, including but not limited to discrimination and racism.
A loving couple, Shirley and John Billy, faced extreme racism when they fell in love and eventually had a baby in 1957. At the time, her parents not only looked down upon this, but it was illegal to have a mixed-race child.
The full extent of the law came down on the new parents. One day the baby was born, and the next, it was taken away. Shirley was also thrown in jail for her apparent "transgression."
But, they eventually took the case to court and won, able to take their baby home. This court battle was not the only challenge they came across. They also faced issues concerning getting married.
The government had even gone so far as to draft John so that he could not tie the knot with his beloved. But, whatever came their way, they fought for their right to freedom and equality.
No matter what or who we may encounter in the world, let's try to make it a welcoming space for all, to hopefully and eventually live in a peaceful and just world.
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