What are their strengths? How do they sparkle?

This week I had the opportunity to think of the day Henry went to Perry Harrison for his kindergarten assessment. (I’ve written about this before.) Despite visiting the school several times already, when we walked in the front door, his body instantly went into fight-or-flight mode. It was evident to anyone in a 1-mile radius that he was in serious distress.

That day my heart and Keith’s endured a pain for our hurting child that I don’t wish on anyone, but something else happened too. This is the part I treasure:

By the end of his assessment, he was asking if he could do more. “Can I count by threes now?”

It reminded me of a time when Henry was 3 years old and having an epic meltdown. I sent Keith a text message like this: “I don’t know what to do. He’s throwing trains at me and he can’t calm down. I’ve done everything.”

Keith answered, “Say the ABCs.” Like magic, the meltdown simmered and then stopped.

Henry loves to learn. This has been a blessing in the most remarkable and unexpected ways, which I could list ad nauseam, and I mean this in the least braggadocious way possible. What I mean is that when we allow a individual’s strengths to shine, disabilities don’t hold the same power over us. They still exist and affect the individual’s life – yes, absolutely. However, the power diminishes.

But here’s the catch. it takes patient people to nurture those strengths. Parents, guardians, caregivers, teachers, therapists, friends, doctors… whoever is in the individual’s “village” must be patient, nurturing, and keenly observant. I’m talking eagle-eye observant. We call it the Dream Team, and the Dream Team sees emerging skills, talents, and gifts that may be overlooked by the casual observer or society as a whole.

It’s easier to spot a person’s weaknesses, especially a person’s diagnosed “deficits,” but we must not stop there.

Be a member of someone’s Dream Team. I encourage you to look for the people in your life, even those on the periphery, who may need to have their strengths encouraged. Then, watch how they sparkle and shine.

New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 9-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

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