When I’m looking for topics to write about for my column each week I have gained ideas from several different areas. Songs, Facebook posts, and everyday stories have been sources for ideas lately, but this week I found one in a classic book. I was reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens when I came upon a passage that I found very inspirational in a slightly different way.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story I’ll give a small rundown; Copperfield was orphaned, abandoned, built a life for himself, was adopted by an aunt that at first didn’t want him, but then wanted to help him improve his life. I won’t go into many other details, but it was a good book about overcoming obstacles and persevering in life.
That is not exactly where I found the inspiration though. I was reading a portion where David was going to marry a woman, and though he loved her he knew she wasn’t what he had in mind for his wife. She was different than what he had imagined because she wasn’t as intellectual. He expected someone he could have more of a conversation with, or that would do more around the house.
Then his aunt said something that I think we all could use in our lives; especially those who have children with special needs. She said, “It’s your duty to judge her by the qualities she has, and not by the qualities she may not have. Try, instead, to develop these qualities in her. And if you cannot, then simply do without them.”
What great advice for someone with a child on the spectrum. First of all it is our duty as parents to find the qualities in our children that they possess. We have a duty as a parent to care for our children. This is what we must do. We decided to when we decided to bring this child into the world, whether by accident or by choice.
Find the good and ignore the bad. We understand we have a child with special needs. We know they can’t do everything that other children their age can...yet. However, we know what they can do, and most of the time these things are extraordinary. Excentuate the positives.
The things they can’t do...yet, we have to help them in any way we can to develop these qualities. It again is our duty to do so. Therapies, diets, research, talking to others, resources, and anything else we can find to give our child a chance is what we need to provide for them.
Then, if we cannot do this; if for some reason this is not possible for them to develop these things in life, then we just accept that and find a way around it. If our child cannot tie their shoes then we find velcro shoes. If they can’t talk to us then we find another way to communicate.
Dickens was a great writer, and I’m not sure this is what he had in mind when he wrote this passage, but I felt this was one of the strongest things I had read in a long time. Hope it helps.
Kodey Toney is a parent of a child with autism. E-mail him with questions or ideas at email@example.com . You also can find all columns archived at blogspot.com.