1. I love that you are unlike anyone else.
You are unique and unapologetically YOU. There is absolutely no way to compare you to someone else. In a world obsessed with categorizing people, being like others, and making people feel like less of a person for being different- that is a rather amazing quality.
2. I love how much you NEED structure, because I LOVE structure.
There is a significant difference between structure and rigidity. Life is unexpected and unfair. In order to survive this life, we have to be able to go with the flow in a lot of situations, but structure is what grounds us in those moments of uncertainty. Structure makes your world go round, and it makes mine go round as well.
3. I love how you are a million times smarter than most people ever give you credit for.
I know everyone is different and no two children (spectrum or not) are the same. But, people tend to discredit an individual once they learn he/she has a “disability.” Every day I am amazed to learn something else one of my clients knows. I have witnessed a “non-verbal” client sit down at a computer and begin typing words, I have had a child multiply two triple-digit numbers in his head and I have had clients teach me things about dinosaurs some Paleontologists probably don’t know. A disability might make an individual different from you but in no way makes that person less than you.
4. I love how much you appreciate the small things.
Like the rest of us, you might not always be happy, but it doesn’t take much to get you there. You don’t need extravagant toys or to be the best at everything. You’re not looking around at others as competition or always finding the need to win. Even something as simple as singing your favorite song puts that look of bliss in your eye. Genuine and pure bliss. Everyday you remind me to appreciate these moments and the connection we make during these times.
5. I love how proud you are of yourself when you finally get something you’ve worked so hard to learn.
As happy as it makes me to see you smiling, clapping, and giggling; it’s the moment when you look right in my eyes as if to say, “Did you see that!? I did it.” That moment is significant. In that moment, I see you grow and your confidence blossom. Who isn’t excited when they finally master something that was once a challenge? The difference is yours are usually skills the rest of us take for granted. One day, people won’t know how hard you worked to learn to zip your jacket or maybe to even say your own name, but I will. I was privileged enough to be there in that moment, and what an amazing moment to witness.
6. I love that you are easily the best part of everyone’s day.
Things are not always easy. In fact, most days are quite the opposite. But, that is part of the journey. There are so many terrible things happening in the world. There are so many things to stress and worry about. It’s the simple moments with you that make me forget about everything else, if even for just a moment.
7. I love how you show me love.
Maybe it isn’t with words or “typical” acts of love, but you show it to me in the simplest of ways that never fail to warm my heart. There is nothing more heartbreaking to me than to hear people speak the common misconception that people on the spectrum don’t feel LOVE, connection or attachment. How very wrong that assumption is. These individuals are more than capable of love. After just one day with them, you would know it, too.
8. I love that you challenge me to step outside of my comfort zone.
I will never forget how it felt when I first started working with my clients. I had some experience with children, but I wasn’t used to belting the ABCs or tickling someone every time they answered a question correctly. I never knew I’d be comfortable doing MANY of the things that now come natural to me, and that is all because of you. You challenge me to have fun and to not take life so seriously. I don’t know if you will ever understand the impact you have had on me. In so many ways, you have shaped me into being the person I am today.
9. I love how nonjudgmental you are.
I don’t think enough people understand this. While not all comments may be appropriate; if something you say offends someone, it’s probably because it’s true. You don’t look at others and see their differences. You see people for who they are.
10. I love that because of you I am encouraged to write, speak, share, and advocate.
You deserve everything this world has to offer, and I am determined to make sure you get it. I feel like I have a purpose because of you. I get to spend everyday doing something I love, and you will never know how much of a blessing you are to me because of that.
I hope that by the end of this, you are thinking to yourself, “But, you could say most of these about ANY child.”
That was the point.