Respect: courteous regard for people’s feelings; the attitude of admiration or esteem; the condition of being honored
Over the past several months, Emma has had some pretty aggressive behaviors, which include pinching, grabbing and trying to bite sometimes. I haven’t really been sure how to deal with it, but usually I end up reacting with anger and impatience. That is what’s expected, right? I wrote a post once about these behaviors (Are you mad at me?) and despite the fact that Emma is still telling me she can’t help it, it’s been hard to wrap my mind around it. How many times will she type out : I can’t help it or I have no control over my body or the never ending I am sorry before I will stop questioning and just start listening to her? I have two choices here: Either I believe her or I don’t. And if I don’t believe her as her mother, despite my misunderstandings, who will??!
I haven’t, and don’t, always consider respect and dignity when it comes to the kids. It’s easy to get so bogged down in those special needs that my children have that I fail to see how that one thing can bring humanity to their life – confidence that gives them that sense of belonging.
I know that as a society, when we are talking about those with special needs we use the word acceptance a lot. And, by all means, we should! But I think that maybe what’s more important is to show respect for these individuals. I think ultimately, respect and dignity is the right of every human being. I really can’t imagine, but often have tried, what it would be like to live in this world and yet not feel like you could really be a part of it. A world where not only are you misunderstood because you don’t communicate the way everyone else does, but also because your body doesn’t react as everyone expects it to. You have to give it 200 percent everyday to try to fit in, but no one even knows what your favorite color is or looks at you like an intelligent person at all.
Yes, I think respect is in short supply when we talk about our special needs community. Think about what a little respect could mean to someone who has always been made to feel like less of a human being because of their differences. I guess I have been thinking about this for a very long time. How can I not?
A week ago or so, when Emma had an extremely aggressive day, I decided to forgo the snapping and reacting and tried to calmly deal with the situation. I believe I used the words “I know you can’t help it, okay?” I know some people might have something to say about that! It may not seem right to down play all that pinching, grabbing and attempted biting. But in my heart, I really tried to remember what she’d told me. I felt that I needed to do that for her.
At the end of the day, when her body was calm, she reached out to the keyboard.
Emma: I am sorry for prying but why would you rewire your personality
Me: “What do you mean?”
Emma: Usually you insist that I apologize
Me: “Well, I’m trying to be a better listener, you know. You always tell me that you can’t help it and I believe you. I do.”
Emma: pretty respectful
Tonight I talked with Emma about the post. After all, those two words were the inspiration. I wanted to include her and get some feedback about how she felt about it.
Emma: I respect you for respecting me
I love her way with words. After this, I found myself going on and on about the subject. You can imagine my perseveration.
Me: “Am I going too deep with this?”
Emma: Just a little
Respect! Nuff said!