Our children today are taught to express themselves, to be successful in school, on the sports field, in music, in drama, in music and to generally to be busy DOING.
We do a good job at ensuring their little minds and bodies are taken care of but what about their little hearts? Do we teach our children to LOVE, to be kind to each other and to forgive? Do we teach our children compassion and the deeper meaning of sacrifice (giving up what you love to someone else in need). Do we teach our children to both appreciate differences in each other and to use this knowledge as a bridge of friendship? Do we teach our children the importance of Trust that leads to faith and security? Do we teach our children forgiveness that leads to guidance and knowledge?
As Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) we support children & teach them how to communicate with others but there is more to the work that we do. In a recent conversation with friends and fellow SLTs I was reminded of this. As SLTs a focus of our work is on social cognition, that is thinking about what happens in our social world and how we can better communicate and connect with others. In light of our social political climate this work is vital and perhaps needed for all children. Recently I had one of those AHA moments and realized that when we work on social thinking we are teaching something else, something far deeper and meaningful. Beyond socialization we are teaching awareness, acceptance, appreciation and compassion. Not only to help our students navigate their social world but also to help those around them to support them and appreciate their unique needs and differences. We acknowledge and celebrate differences at the same time. What makes us unique is also what makes us interesting and leads to connections in our world and we call that Experience Sharing.
So back to Love and it’s friends kindness and compassion. These are the universal spiritual values that our children and world at large deeply need, regardless of religion, race or gender. Essentially Love and Kindness are essential nutrients for our hearts (physical & spiritual).
Love is in each of us but we have forgotten how to express it. Children learn so much by example and need to be taught that it is ok to love outside of the home, in the wider community and the world at large.
In this month where the focus is gratitude, and as Thanksgiving drawers near I’m immensely grateful for what my work with children and adults with autism that has taught me and continues to teach me. I’m also blessed to work with and be continuously inspired by an amazing team of therapists and teachers from all around the world!
And so today with gratitude I share that the world has much to learn from Autism.