How do you define the word simple? What images come to mind when you think of this word? The definition includes the following terms:
‘Basic, Plain, Uncomplicated, easily understood or done, Presenting no difficulty.’
Try this: Use simple in a sentence:
‘We had a simple dinner last night, no fuss’
‘I want to keep our wedding simple, no fuss and minimal decorations’
‘What are you wearing to dinner? Oh, just a simple white blouse’
‘How was your test? It was pretty simple and easy, studying paid off’
Those are harmless right?
Now try this:
‘Oh, she’s simple, so she doesn’t get it.’
Hmmmm. How does that make you feel?
Not sure how it makes you feel? Imagine someone saying that about someone you love. Someone you love with ‘special needs.’
That has a different connotation, doesn’t it? More of a negative emotion at the basis of that statement. Is it harmless? No. Does it have long lasting implications? Absolutely.
Let’s talk about it. I want to talk about it. It needs to be talked about.
In this world of ‘awareness’ that we live in, we are kidding ourselves if we think that awareness equates acceptance. Spoiler alert—it doesn’t. Awareness is a term I’m sure everyone has heard. But, what does it mean? It seems that all it really means is that people are aware that autism or ‘special needs’ exist. And of those people, the majority are merely tolerant. A lot are not. The remaining few, understand acceptance—Undeniable 100% acceptance. They may be a parent of a child with special needs, or a family member, or a friend. Or perhaps they are just a decent human being who understands that no two people on this Earth are alike. And maybe, just maybe, they decide to be decent and accepting and caring to every single person they meet.
Why should a diagnosis matter? So many diagnoses are silent. Unseen. A child may seem ‘normal’ to you, but you have no idea that they struggle with unforeseen issues.
It’s not the case at all. Special needs children and adults are profound individuals. They are capable of far more than you could ever imagine. And it’s a beautiful thing. Non-verbal doesn’t mean they can’t communicate. Limited communication doesn’t mean they don’t understand. And high functioning speech doesn’t mean that they don’t have feelings.
It would be a wonderful world if we all understood the many dynamic ways the brain and human body function—To understand why people are who they are and the way they are. But we couldn’t possibly understand because the sea of individuality is vast and deep, each wave a ripple effect of how we treat one another. We will never fully comprehend the intricacies of every person with special needs, but we need to educate ourselves as much as we can
For example: Why should we ‘need’ a blue bucket for trick or treaters with autism? Why must we stigmatize them even farther than we already do? Or worse, make them a target? What ever happened to treating everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, with kindness and humanity. Maybe our job is just to be kind. And to spread that kindness.
And for the record, ignorance isn’t bliss. Ignorance isn’t a pass to say what you want and have no concern about the ramifications. Words matter. Actions matter. Thoughts matter. Your heart matters. Make it matter. Make it matter to a child who has overcome more than you will ever comprehend. Make it matter for the parent who feels overwhelmed and all alone. Make it matter for the mom who cries over her child. Make it matter for the Dad who fears for his child’s safety. Make it matter for the people who try to make a difference and try to understand.
I don’t care if you are a man who loves a man. I don’t care if you’re a woman who loves a woman. I don’t care if you have special needs. I don’t care what color you are. No matter who you are I promise I will always try my best to be kind.
I do care if you are judgmental. I do care if you are biased. I do care if you are ignorant. I do care if you are mean. I do care if you choose to never care. But I will still be kind to you. Not because it’s easy, but for the simple fact that it’s right.
See a child spinning in circles—Don’t stare. See a kid who is overly clumsily—don’t laugh. See a child covering their ears in panic over a car horn—don’t sneer. See a ‘big kid’ wearing a diaper—mind your business. See a kid hitting themselves over and over—don’t roll your eyes. See a mom desperately trying to stop her child from having a meltdown—don’t try to ‘teach’ her how to parent better. See a kid freaking out over something mundane—offer love.
Teach your children to be kind. Teach your children about special needs and differences in people and cultures. Teach them to be kind.
It’s so simple.
Simply be kind to everyone. Simply educate not only your brain, but your heart. Simply offer love, instead of judgement.
It really is so simple. Simplicity at its finest.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Becca Smith on behalf of Michelle Stanfield. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Subscribe to Love What Matters on YouTube and never miss our best videos.
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