Dear KOM-ers! We’re so happy to feature a new book giveaway!
Please enjoy this excerpt from “This One is Special” by Suzanne Askham.
There are 2 ways to enter to win your FREE signed hard copy:
- Leave a comment below with your email address (so we can contact you)
- Email us at KOMWriting@gmail.com with the Subject: This One is Special giveaway entry
Winner will be randomly selected on 6/29/20and announced on our website and social media. *
When your child is born with a condition that can’t be cured, where do you look for answers? As the mother of a boy with complex disabilities, I have spent many years trying to find out. I will give you a clue that the answers I have tracked down include love, intuition, self-forgiveness and healing. One day, unexpectedly, I discovered a major part of my own personal answer: that the human impulse to care for others – to be kind to each other – is built into the DNA of our collective survival. The answers I outline in this book can be applied to everyone’s individual life challenges, especially during current times. They can help us all to thrive and be happier.
I was walking through corridors of dinosaurs pushing my two-year-old disabled son Timmy along in his buggy, together with some other members of our family. We were in the Natural History Museum in London. For some reason, although I was enjoying myself, I was also slightly grumpy. I was looking at all those dinosaur skeletons, thinking “Why did you become extinct? Why couldn’t you get your selves sorted out? What was your fatal flaw?”
I was grumpy because there was a clue there somewhere about our own lives, and I just couldn’t spot it and couldn’t be bothered to. I only wanted a good time.
And then, a rope barrier was lifted. A group of people – perhaps 10 or 11 of them – passed through into our area. They moved slowly. Most of them had white sticks except a few, respectfully shepherding them, who wore the museum uniform.
For some reason, as I watched their slow progress, my mood lifted. I became calm. The answer was there. Even if I couldn’t spot it, I knew the answer was there.
I don’t quite know how to put this, but there was a difference in the air around the people with their white canes. A spirit of love and caring surrounded their slow progress. The caring was manifested by the museum staff. Gently, they helped them through barriers. They led them to the skeletons of dinosaurs. They helped them to touch the bony outlines.
And the caring stretched out more widely, like a blanket of most uplifting, subtle light beams. I wasn’t the only person watching. All around that vast room, people were watching, and their energy, like mine, became softened in the process.
And then, I realised: the answer lay in the caring. Caring for others is life-saving for all of us, because we are all connected.
It felt to me as though the people who need caring – those with special needs – come into being from the vast fabric of all life because there is a collective human need for their vulnerability. Being vulnerable is part of their purpose.
Those who do the caring, receive something so valuable in return. Hearts that have closed through trauma are able to reopen.
And of course we can play both roles within a lifetime. I can be a carer, and at the same time be someone who is cared for. Even a full-time carer – perhaps especially a full-time carer – needs help from her wider circle.
This is something that is built into our DNA: we are here to care, and to be cared for. Both functions bring meaning to our lives, as well as bringing each of us greater protection.
Later, when we were in the museum shop, Timmy spoke. As always, this was a rare event. His cousins were selecting books. Timmy said, “I want one.” So I bought him a pop-up dinosaur book. He thought it was wonderful and, for a while, slightly scary.
After that visit to the Natural History Museum, I realised my view of people with disabilities had changed. Instead of seeing them as lacking something – dis-abled – I began to view them as having extra ability – they were differently abled.
It was as though I had been wearing a pair of distorting lenses, which had now fallen from my eyes.
Once, for example, I might have viewed someone with the outward signs of disability totally in the context of their label, or diagnosis. But now I was seeing a person with his or her own particular qualities. On occasion it felt to me as though I could see a very subtle, uplifting glow around them. At those times, it seemed to me that they had not forgotten something that other people routinely forget: that we are all loved by an unseen intelligence – that we are the sons and daughters of the universe, that we are loved by life itself.
And then, I began to notice that some parents of children with special needs spoke about them in surprisingly positive ways. They talked about how much their children taught them. The parents mentioned qualities such compassion, love, laughter and forgiveness. They talked about enjoying life, about living in the moment.
These parents made it clear that their lives were enriched by their children.
A huge shift was taking place in me. It’s hard to over-estimate the effect of this shift.
I felt like one of the first sailors, nearing the edge of the known world. Nearly all my life I had been aware of the hazy horizon. I believed that I could see, or sense, the sharp, terrifying place where the sea, our ship and I would be swept over into a terrifying abyss.
The known world was the ‘normal’ world: the one in which babies reach their developmental milestones at a statistically average age; the one in which humans all look more or less the same, give or take a few minor variations.
The unknown world, the terrifying abyss, was where you went if you were developmentally ‘abnormal’. I had been clutching our son and scrambling on the edge of that abyss ever since our son was born. Now, at last, I was learning to let go.
And when I finally let go… whoosh. Acceptance came in. A sense of freedom arrived. I understood, finally, that it was okay not to conform. I realised that the world would not end if our son never got a single school qualification. I also had a sense, increasingly, that we were somehow looked after. We were not, and are not, alone on this tricky road that we walk.
Note: You can order Suzanne’s book on Amazon.
* By entering this contest, you give consent to Kind Over Matter to use your name for promotional purposes on our website and on all social media.