The Walls Come Tumbling Down: Fears Dissolve With a Simple Hello
The faces of children do not lie. Many kids are not exposed to special needs children often. The shock on their faces, the stares, the fear is hard to disguise. They don't know what to do.
A few days ago, I walked with my son to the end of the line at his track meet. Two girls stood in front of him, each holding their metal shot put ball in their hand. My son's motions are sometimes jerky. He's often loud and unpredictable. His speech is to most people, incomprehensible. We stood behind them. Their eyes darted back and forth to each other. They had no idea what to do.
"Hello!" I said. I asked them their names. My son yelled out his. I repeated it for clarification. The second I said the simple word hello, the tenseness in their shoulders lightened; their eyes relaxed. The wall of fear came tumbling down. We talked about throwing the shot put. They'd done it a lot, they said. I asked if maybe they could look out for my son, you know, help him out around the shot put circle. In less than five minutes, we were friends.
Today we were playing in a park, and two girls sat a few feet away from us. They had an adorable, tiny black puppy. They sat down and the instant they looked at my son, they froze. They hadn't planned on him. Their eyes darted back and forth to each other. I could feel the wall rising. I could tell they were considering an escape.
I told my son, loud enough so the girls could hear, that the puppy was only to look at. We waved hello. The tenseness in their shoulders lightened; their eyes relaxed. The wall of fear came tumbling down.
We played side by side in the park. Soon, my son was just another kid hanging out with his mom. A light poked through the wall and all it had taken was a simple hello.