She sat alone amidst the flowers. She should have been like one of them; colourful, lovely, bubbly, bobbing her head with the wind, playing with the edge of her skirt. Instead, she just sat there and looked around. A little wistfully but very content. At least she was there amongst them all. So what if not with them all.
She sat playing with her shoe. But it was only one shoe. Where was the other? And why play with her shoe?
“ Aunty, she is refusing to put on her shoe”, said an older girl.
“ Mom, she asked me to eat my shoe. When I refused she took my other shoe away and said she would ask everyone not to play with me”.
“ No, Aunty, I did not, “ said the girl, paling a little.
“ Yes, Mom, she did, butted in the little one.
“ Enough of this, “ said the woman, “ my daughter does not lie. Why did you ask her of this absurd request? Why do you bully someone who is younger? Don’t they teach you to be kind in your school? She is not disturbing your game. If you cannot play with her, at least let her be? “
The woman, hurt, upset, enraged, protective, passionate, opened her mouth to go on some more when the older girl said, “ Don’t you think you’ve said enough for one day? “
And so it went on for some more time. Children gathered but said nothing. Parents stood around and listened but abstained from intervening. The woman and her daughter battled on. The young child had taught the woman an important lesson. That one must never give in; even if it meant being left isolated. The woman promised herself to train her daughter to handle life’s barbs without losing her confidence and self – worth. They left with tears but with a determination to carry on. They probably had no friends but they had each other. And that was enough.
Today the baby girl has blossomed into a teenager. She still walks alone and plays by herself. She is looked at with mocking eyes by her peers or avoided by the ones who perhaps are a tad more sensitive. But she still greets them and looks at them squarely in the eyes. They cannot say anything further. She does not blame anyone. She does not blame herself either. This is her battle. She is willing to fight it out. One day she knows she will succeed.
Note to the reader: It was World Autism Day on April 2, 2014 and April is the Autism Month. This does not mean that that you have to be caring, loving, sensitive only one one designated day or in this month. A date or this month is only seeking to reinforce what should be a part of your life – accepting the different and appreciating them for this individuality. They are special not because they are not like you and me; they are special because they are not like you and me.
My child is much more than a diagnosis and if she cannot learn the way I teach, then I will teach the way she can learn.