Sunday, 6 January 2013

Invisibility - Am I really here?

Sitting in a Thanksgiving service, held to celebrate the life of a gentleman we knew, I watched my daughter gently plucking at the skin on her hand. As the life story of our friend was told by his family, friends and colleagues, my little girl continued to pinch herself. I leaned close and whispered - Do you need to go out? No, was her calm reply as she pulled each finger back and let them drop again. Oh dear, was my thought, she's getting really stressed. She wasn't. Through stories, song and visual illustrations a man's life was represented. He had been visible to so many people. He gave his time, talents and outgoing personality to assist others in their development. People had gathered to remember and give thanks for the way in which he had touched their lives.
To love and to be loved is a human need. Is it different if you have autism? I would say not. Some professionals' comments could have led me to a different conclusion. I have heard it said in our home. "I want to be invisible!" "They can't see me!" "They're all looking at me!" "I don't know what to do if someone I don't know talks to me." "I can't tell if I'm smiling or not, I can't see myself."
Memories of a little person appearing by our bedside every night. Arriving silently, standing by my sleeping form and announcing, "Roar, roar, roar. I'm a little dinosaur!" No longer invisible, clearly defining herself at 2 a.m!!

Sensory feedback is necessary to us all. It's just not apparent how we all receive it. Today, I watched my daughter holding a tiny doll and pulling her fingers. I smiled at her. She's not invisible, she's feeling the doll in her hand and the pull on her skin. I told her I liked her doll, she let me hold it. We are visible, we are here and we all matter.

Best wishes
Hazel Reeves

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