Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Good Different

As I am learning to Celebrate Difference, I have come to realise that being different can be good and it can be bad. Good Different is attractive because it is different, it breaks free from the norm, it is not bound by fear of what others think, it can lead to new perspectives, new ideas, even new and better ways of doing life. Good Different can have friends, can have a place of belonging, can know love, and can make a meaningful and marvellous contribution to this small planet on which we live.

Being different doesn't automatically mean being rejected, lonely and left out.

This is helpful to remember.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Occupational Therapy

Matt has been seeing more of his Occupational Therapist these last few months. Previously we would meet with the OT once a year or so, she would assess Matt and recommend activities we could be doing in the home with him. This year she is helping him with some of his sensory issues and also the use of his hands. Check out some of the fun things they get up to in a session.

 Start off with a quick sensory brush

 Then some hand pushing

 Every session has a theme based on Matt's interest - today it was trains.

 Matt loving pretending to ride the train on the gym ball.

 Train puzzles

 Using the puzzle for some help with drawing.

 Let's read a train book

 And Matt's all time favourite thing - hanging out, bouncing and swinging in this very interesting, stretchy-fabric hammock. Great sensory input for Matt. He can't get enough

 Then some more drawing - this time on the mirror.

And to end, let's clean up. Spray, wipe the drawing off of the mirror.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Celebrating Difference

One evening not so long ago, I am sitting with two good friends who are praying for me. I hadn't mentioned to them my wrestling with Matt being different as described in my previous post. The one shares with me that she feels God has put it on her heart to tell me to celebrate Matt's differences, to dare to be different and see all the positive things that his differences are bringing to our lives.
It was a very spiritual moment, I just knew God was speaking to me through her, although I was rather surprised at the message. At first I fought with God - how can he expect me to embrace the differences I see in Matt. Over the days that followed I reflected on this invitation to celebrate Matt's differences.

Throughout Matt's life we have been doing a lot of celebrating. Every tiny step forward has been received with joy and party. Yet I realised that what we had been celebrating was not the ways that Matt is different, rather the small steps he was taking to become less different. We had been rejoicing in every achievement that would make him fit in and be the same. I am not saying that celebrating milestones reached is a bad thing, on the contrary, that is what got us through these last 5 years. But the invitation here is to celebrate more than just the victories, to celebrate all of Matt. And to celebrate the experiences, people and things that Matt's differences bring into our lives.

This is a huge change in perspective for me. I am still getting used to looking through this new set of glasses. These days, as I am standing in Matt's classroom about to kiss him goodbye, I sense the Holy Spirit nudging me to look around me with my new eyes. I am being trained to focus on all they ways in which Matt's differences are bringing something valuable to the other kids and his teacher.

What I am seeing with these new eyes is very healing.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Being different is hard

I am not there yet. I am no where near being ok with Matt's differences.

I guess this isn't really the politically correct thing to say,  but it is my reality in this season. I have been wrestling with this issue since Matt started school this year. I blogged about it a few months back, where I thought I had worked through it. Recently I wrote an article for a non-profit that helps parents who want to mainstream their child with learning needs, here too I shared my difficulty watching Matt being different to his peers at school.

Clearly I need to grapple with it on a deeper level because right now my honest feeling is that being different sucks. I have this overwhelming desire for Matt to be like make friends, to be able to share with me about his day, to tell me why he starts sobbing unless his dad or I sit with him until he falls asleep, to engage with other children without being so physical, to be out of nappies at night, and, and.

I have never considered myself to be a follow-the-crowd type of person, rather I see myself as an independent thinker, someone who doesn't just buy an outfit because it is fashion, someone who is confident enough to question the status quo. So it surprises me that I am longing for Matt to be normal. I must clarify, that I don't feel embarressed by Matt - I am happy to take him shopping, enrole him in community activities, and include him in our church and with friends. It is not that I am ashamed of him.

I have been seeking the root of my struggles and I think my difficulty is in part because my relationship with him is not as close as it might be if he could pour out his heart to me. I watch other kids interacting with their parents and my heart aches for that. Despite his blossoming speech, and despite the iPad communication device, there is still so much of his thinking to which I don't have access.

Also I think I am really scared that others won't like him because he is different. And that he will be lonely. My heart ices over at the thought of him being without friend one day - just surrounded by people who are paid to be in his life. I find it hard to believe that Matt will have a place of belonging and acceptance in a society that honours "the normal" and where people invest time and money to be IN so they won't be OUT. I see his differences and it feels like they are a passport to loneliness.

A couple of weeks ago, in the midst of my wrestling, I had an intriguing encounter that has stopped me in my tracks, and that has offered me hope...maybe I can make friends with Being Different. But more about that in the next post.