In a world that is daily increasing in the number of special needs children, it is exceptionally important what parents teach their typical children. Even toddlers have the ability to recognize that DJ is unlike them. Of all the responses we receive in public, we never had one like today.
Costco shoppers have always been the most tolerant. They smile and go out of their way to speak to DJ. Once in Walmart a woman actually said to me, “What’s wrong with it?” In reference to my child! DJ isn’t stupid. He picks up on unkindness. So, needless to say, Costco is DJ’s favorite store. Since the store is so big we push DJ in a wheelchair which really draws the eye of children.
Today two little boys were riding in a shopping cart and caught sight of DJ as we rounded a corner. The oldest looked to be maybe five and the younger about three. The younger questioned his older brother about why DJ was jabbering and flailing about. Their mother, unaware of what was taking place, pushed them away before I could hear the older one’s response. As we were leaving we ran into them again. The older one immediately began hollering at DJ and waving frantically at him. I mean this kid was serious about getting DJ’s attention. When he did, DJ gave him an enthusiastic wave back. The younger one immediately turned incredulous eyes upon his brother.
“He waved at you.” The little one was so in awe you would have thought his favorite movie character had just come to life before his eyes.
“Wave at him. He might wave at you too,” was the older child’s advice.
DJ, now seeing he has the attention of two children, is jabbering in that dialect that only he understands. He was rocking the wheelchair trying to roll over to the two. His little arms were flailing about as he simply couldn’t contain the enthusiasm of having what he rarely has; the undivided attention of another child.
When the youngest one, with his big beautiful brown eyes round with wonder, gave DJ a wave and DJ jabbered and waved him the little boy just couldn’t believe it. These two little boys were amazed that DJ was “talking” to them. When their mother turned to see what all the excitement was about they both began pointing at DJ with enthusiastic gestures and simultaneously telling her how DJ was waving and “talking” to them. We had a good laugh about it while all three boys were going crazy over each other. Those little boys were amazed that DJ was interacting with them. They treated DJ like a rock star.
Parents need to know the importance of encouraging their children to ask questions about DJ and to interact with him. DJ LOVES to get the attention of kids. He tries his best to talk to them either jabbering or using his iPad. Unfortunately, it is a very rare occasion when the child will respond in a positive manner to him. Science has shown us that children learn physically and intellectually from other children. Therefore, no one wins when the opportunity to interact with a special needs child is lost.
Somehow that mother at Costco has successfully taught her two very young boys that they should be accepting and loving of all people. And in the process of doing so, her children made DJ, for a brief moment in time, just like every other little kid. That is a blessing that defies words and will have a positive impact on DJ for the rest of his life.