Can you imagine waking up every day with all your senses heightened?
I watch my courageous 5-year-old wake up early before school to attend her therapy session. While other children sleep in or watch cartoons, my daughter practices her address and my phone number in case of an emergency. She makes a checklist with her therapist on the morning’s activities. My daughter is learning to take control of her life.
We get her ready for school. Her therapist and I walk with her. We have been practicing “safe walking” for several months now. Cars whiz by us and buses make their noise. My daughter covers her ears. She holds her head up high, and tries her best to be a safe walker, to hold hands and look both ways. Her teachers and school staff cheer her on as she walks to the building.
I always give her a choice where to let go and when to say bye to me. She walks into the building on her own, a brave kindergartner on the spectrum, trying to be like all the other kids.
At school, she will face a social circle of children who are neurotypical and can speak their minds. I know she struggles, but I see how desperately she wants to be friends. She wants to be just like them.
This can be a lesson for us all. We can all work harder to understand those with differences. Teach all children to be accepting and kind, and to learn from those who struggle.
This world can be overwhelming for kids like my daughter, but I know kids like her will change the future and teach us all about courage, strength and kindness.