Monday, January 29, 2007

musings on my day

You just never know what reaction you're going to get.

I had the duty today of letting some parents know that their child is autistic. And it's one of those kinds of situations where parental reactions show such tremendous variability. Some will just stare at you blankly. Some will become angry, even argue with you (if you let them). Others will weep, as if I've just given them some kind of proverbial death sentence for their dreams for their child.

So I tend to go into such meetings with a bit of trepidation, careful to describe just what it is that their child is struggling with -- and what I think can be done to remediate the problem.

The situation today was heightened a bit in terms of its intensity when I discovered that one of hte parents had spent a fair amount of time in prison. Didn't find out just why -- it didn't seem like the moment to ask. But it is fair to say that my mind engaged in all manner of thoughts about what could have sent them there.

"Your son is in the autistic spectrum" I explained to them.

And this gruff, unpolished person with all the physical signs of a having lived a hard life expressed...relief. He finally knew what it was about his son that had always seemed wrong, that he couldn't understand. He eagerly soaked up my explanations of how to start helping their son.

It's perhaps odd that of all of us in that room, I was perhaps the one who learned the most. They simply put a name to what they had sensed for a long time, and picked up a few bits of knowledge about how to start working on that problem. I learned something about assumptions, preconceptions, and how easy it is to judge before you've gotten to know someone.


Magdalene6127 said...

What a beautiful story Steve, thanks for sharing. Amazing what we can learn, isn't it???


steve said...

Indeed it is, Mags. Thank you for your kind words.

Alex said...

That brought tears to my eyes, Steve. Blessings on your head!

steve said...


Your kindness and willingness to comment on my humble blog honor me. Thank you.

Earthbound Spirit said...

It always is a surprise how people will react to difficult news, isn't it?

Thank you for this. You've reminded me to check assumptions at the door and stay mindful of what's really being expressed.