I had a realization this past weekend that I’m not entirely proud of but so relieved that I had it. One of those reflective moments where you suddenly realize “Oh, wow”…

My husband was traveling a few days this past week and I handled the driving Cole to and from school duties. I was lamenting the morning drop off because my observation of them was that (besides Cole being terribly embarrassed to have his mom bring him into school – typical teenager!), most of the kids just sort of ignored him as we pass by or settle near his classroom waiting for his para-professional to arrive and take over. It’s like they just don’t see him.

So I was discussing this with some friends over the weekend, expressing that it really saddened me when I realized that Cole sort of ignores everyone else too. He’s not engaging them in conversation or saying “Hi” to any of them despite having the ability to do so with his Tobii. He has a voice that he often neglects to use and conversation is not something that he needs to be dependent upon others to start. In fact, it should be something he’s doing more often. He needs to be engaging his friends with interest and query. It’s not their responsibility to always come to him and ask him questions without reciprocation.

As much as I hate to admit it, but it’s so easy to see your child as the one left out because they’re different, and admittedly it does make it harder for others to engage with him, but the reality is he also has to show he’s open to conversation and interested in others as well. It’s not something we’ve fostered or a skill he’s strongly developed because, cringe, we were focused on why others weren’t engaging him. I’m grateful that light blub turned on and that it’s now something that Cole can work on developing stronger conversational skills and understanding.

I feel like by him initiating conversation or simply greeting friends and teachers when he sees them as opposed to silently rolling by, he will open himself up to more positive and intention interactions with people, and will deepen friendships by actively showing greater interest in his friends. He can’t be reliant on them to be the sole conversant. The reciprocal conversation is so much more satisfying for everyone.

I need to be turning that mirror on my boy and myself a little more often…

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