Jenn's Corona Kindness Break
In celebration of World Autism Month, I am taking time to be kind with an Autism Speaks Kindness Break. We're all feeling the need for kindness at this crazy time but for people with autism and other developmental issues, it's not a want, it's a need. More than 2/3 of our kids report being bullied. It's heartbreaking. Awareness and acceptance are the solution -- and that's a huge part of the work of Autism Speaks.
I hope you'll consider a gift in support of this life-changing mission. I know these are tough times for many; please know that every donation -- big or small -- makes a difference and is truly appreciated.
Many of you know our youngest son, Ethan. Although he doesn't have autism, he shares a lot of the same characteristics and challenges. I wrote this at the start of the school year a few years ago about raising a son with special needs. It feels right to share again as we work toward creating a kinder world:
I love a child who is different -- who talks differently, who eats differently, who breathes differently, who thinks differently -- and because of that, there is no bottom to my world. Every step I take is on faith: faith that the goodness of others will rise to the surface and catch my next step ... and catch his next step. It is faith that we will not fall into the abyss.
Every morning, my heart walks out the front door with a Mickey Mouse backpack and a lunchbox full of carefully selected food that can be self-fed. My heart steps out of my reach and out of my protection and into your world. The way you look at him, the bar you set for him, the chance you give him -- whether you choose to walk toward him or turn away -- defines so much of his life.
When I get him back into my arms at the end of the day, I either build on the joys of the day ... or I try to dismantle the frustration and invisibility brick by brick. I cannot keep all the hurt away because in order to achieve his full potential and grow into his full self, he has to breathe your air and be part of your world. Please: teach your kids to be kind to my kid.
Actually, *don't* teach your kids to be kind.
Kindness feels apologetic, apart. Teach your kids to be explorers -- to seek out, learn from and enjoy the differences that make life beautiful and exciting.
Lots of kids are headed back to school this month. Do they feel nervous? A little insecure? You know who won't judge them? My kid. He just wants to make his friends laugh. He wants to play baseball (specifically, "with a bat"). He does not know (yet) that he is different. He does not know (yet) that he won't get picked for the team. He also doesn't know if your kid is wearing the wrong brand of sneakers or has his shirt on backwards. He doesn't care if your kid is bad at baseball. He just wants to play.
So don't teach your kids to be kind to my kid. Teach your kids to *find* my kid. And just start playing.
Together, we can support the Autism Speaks mission of promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of people with autism and their families.
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