We all want to belong, to have friends, to be part of community. It’s in these relationships that we find the fullness of life, not how much we know or what we’ve accomplished, but who we’ve journeyed with.
This blog was birthed out of the desire to share my story and in doing so appreciate the journey. But I also fully believe that sharing our stories builds connections, makes someone feel less alone, creates community. None of this is to be mistaken for or is intended to replace real human connection.
Our kids are no different. They want to belong and they have to muddle through the developmental stages of figuring out how that works and what it means or maybe when it’s best not to belong.
And how do you even start if you don’t have words to make a connection? Aidan’s relationships are limited and manufactured. That doesn’t speak to the quality of his classmates, who have been incredibly welcoming to him, but to the challenge of making friends without words.
Still, I’m sure he longs for it like the rest of us.
A special educator friend of mine shared this wonderful story about her student who has autism. He gave a presentation on Martin Luther King, and giving the presentation in and of itself was a great accomplishment. To bring MLKs ideas home, this child shared his dream that all kids should be able to play together. Something in him knew he was different, and that while different is to be celebrated, it also requires a bridge of some sort. How do kids who can’t speak, kids who don’t grasp social cues, kids with sensory issues, how do they play together?
The teacher then asked for the other students to give feedback on his presentation. Every one of his classmates had something positive to say and each one was heard, and it that moment, the presenter felt connected.
And there is one bridge; encouraging each other, which may lead to finding commonalities, which just may lead to belonging.