Thursday, April 3, 2014

Be Kind!

Note:  Do you think you're having a deja vu moment?
You are, sort of.
Gremlins have invaded my computer. First they hacked my contact list and sent spam emails hither and yon. Then when I wanted to send emails, it froze up. Then I was working on the post below but got interrupted. Instead of being saved, it somehow got posted, which was not my intent at all. Lexi asked that I post it on her brother's birthday, so I'm checking it twice and re-posting it on April 6th. Sorry for the confusion. Merry ME

"Three things in human life are important: 

the first is to be kind; 
the second is to be kind; 
and the third is to be kind." 
Henry James

I have some very dear friends whose son falls into the 1 in 68 category. He was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 years old. From medical, to homeopathic, to nutritional, to light therapy, to mineral detox treatments, this family has been proactive from day one.  Since then, they have been on the autism version of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.  Yet through it all they do their best to live a "normal" life.  Like I said before, autism is a family disease.  From the grandparents to the youngest sibling, I'm sure each member of the family could write a book on how autism has affected them.

Today I'd like to share with you a speech  Alexis wrote and presented at her school last year.  Alexis, aka Lexie, is 10 years old, the middle child (Something I can relate to.) Although we live in the same neck of the woods, we don't see each other often. Instead we exchange texts and emails. Last fall, Lexie's grandmother, Barbara, sent me Lexi's speech. Much to everyone's chagrin, Lexie took home the 3rd place award, not first. 

Lexie and I are kindred spirits. When I was in the 6th grade. I loved writing and telling stories. I memorized the Gettysburg Address and recited (while others read it, I might add) it in front of a group of judges who picked me to make the 6th Grade graduation speech. When I talked to Lexie, I remembered how it felt to be full of ideas and not afraid to share them. I wanted to be 10 again!

Here's what Lexie had to say about her speech:

ME: Lexie, what made you decide to write a speech about autism?

Lexie: Because it affects my life every day.

ME: Who else gave speeches?

Lexie: All 4th and 5th graders had to give a speech in front of their class. Then the first in each class spoke in front of the whole school.

ME: Yikes! Were you nervous?

Lexie: No. I was excited.

ME: And you came in third place? 

Lexie: Yes. I got a ribbon for coming in first in my class, and a medal for third in the school.

ME: Would  you like to do this again?

Lexie: I would love to do it again because I know what I could make better.

ME: What's your favorite subject?

Lexie: Writing
(Woohoo! Let's hear it for girl writers!)

ME: What do you like to write about:

Lexie: I like writing limericks.

ME: Limericks? Do you have one to share?

Lexie: Sure:
There once was a place in the sand
Who had a marching band
There were surfboards,
Carried in Fords
This was a beautiful land.

ME: Wow. That was great.

ME: So do you want to be a writer when you grow up?

Lexie: No, it's just a hobby. I want to be a police officer when I grow up. Because Hawaii 50 is my favorite show. 

ME: Thanks so much Lexie, for talking to me and letting me share your speech. I'm really proud of you. Is there anything else you'd like to tell people about living with autism?

Lexie: Even though my mom and dad try to keep autism from ruling our lives I know that it is always going to be there and that's okay. I can't imagine my life without my brother the good and the bad.

Lexie's Speech

Hello, my name is Alexis and I understand autism.  I understand it because I live with it within my family.  For me it is a daily way of life and I have learned to be accepting of others.Autism is called a broad spectrum disorder which means it has a wide range of problems like a big rainbow. Within that rainbow a lot of different behaviors show up.  Today one out of four children will be born with autism and four times as many boys will have it. I think a good way to explain autism is to say that people with autism see the world a little differently than we do.   Sometimes their brains don’t process or understand information from the world in a normal way.  It is as if they are getting signals confused.  Autism usually appears in the first three years of life.  It affects the brains normal development of social and communication skills.  Kids with autism have trouble communicating, making friends and often have trouble with their senses. This means ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches may be either painful or super sensitive to them. Even though it is hard for them to make friends, they want to have friends like everyone else. This means the rest of us have to find ways to help understand and connect with them.   Autistic kids have a lot of gifts and talent to share but their brains won’t let them show it in a way we are used to.   Many people with autism are geniuses at music, painting or doing complicated math and science work. Adults with autism usually lead successful lives.Remember, it is important to distinguish the difference between I won’t and I can’t with autism.  Kids with autism are still kids. They get their feelings hurt just like you and me.  Be kind!

Be Kind. Every time I read that, I think how kindness really is solution to so many of the world's problems. And I love that a 10 year old embraces the concept when so many adults seem to have forgotten it. Kindness may not cure autism, or fix the economy, or feed the poor, but it sure goes a long way towards making life easier for everyone. I think Lexi's on to something. Please, when all else fails, be kind. 

"No act of  kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted,"*

Merry ME

* Aesop


Anonymous said...

It is a beautiful piece Aunt Mary. Thank you for writing it all down. Big hugs and lots of love coming your way!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful young girl - in more ways than her lovely face. Her brother is one lucky and loved young brother. This was a wonderful post - kindness and autism sometimes don't happen together, but this was a loving reminder that they always should. ld