One of the challenges that I have with my daughter Eliza is her unawareness of others personal space. She explores her world through touch so when she sees something of interest she reaches out for it. This becomes a difficult situation to manage while we are traveling because we often find ourselves in lines for bathrooms, to purchase something....
to wait for a table, etc..I feel as though I spend a great amount of time apologizing to others because of her actions. What I have found more and more though through my travels is that others are actually quite tolerant of her actions. These strangers are often reassuring me that it is “OK”, that they understand. I see the most wonderful thing happen as their faces warm and they begin to engage Eliza in conversation. They are accepting and they are kind and a flood of relief washes over me as I realize that it really is OK.
I recently took a trip to NYC with my children and I encountered many wonderful and accepting moments with strangers in response to Eliza. One of my most favorite moments was when we were in line at The Minskoff Theatre to see The LionKing. There were quite a few people and right in front of us were two women. I think they were mother and daughter maybe in their 40's and 60's. The daughter was directly in front of Eliza and she was dressed beautifully with fancy shoes and glitter jewelry and Eliza was mesmerized. She reached out to touch the woman and I as usual I grabbed out for her hand but it was too late. The women turned and smiled and then turned back around. A moment later Eliza did it again and the women turned around again and bent down to Eliza and said hello. A huge smiled came across Eliza's face and she told the woman how much she liked her shoes. While the women was speaking to her, Eliza saw that she had two beautiful diamond(Rhinestone) bracelets on her wrist and she reached for them and expressed great appreciation for them. They interacted with one another for a few minutes and then the women took off one of her bracelets and offered it to Eliza. I told her that she did not need to do that but she insisted. She told me that she had hoped that the bracelet would always remind Eliza of her time at The Lion King and she knew that the remaining bracelet on her wrist would always remind her of Eliza. It was a truly beautiful moment.
I think it is important for us as parents of special needs children to realize that the world is catching on. That they are opening their hearts to these beautiful children and embracing all of their differences. You need to realize that it really is OK and that they really are beginning to understand.