Three times a day he works his fine motor skills to put food into his mouth, chew the food and swallow. Something that comes so easy to most people, he has spent years trying to do.
He happily attends a year round school and five therapies a week to learn basic functional skills.
He continues to make his silly noises and laugh as a passing stranger grows annoyed by his lack of response to her questions.
He continues to practice and strengthen his muscles by climbing the mountain-high bus steps, as an impatient man honks for the bus to move.
He works hard to communicate even the most basic of needs as the stranger misjudges the purpose of his communication device.
He walks down the street screaming with delight as a woman mumbles, “He looks failure to thrive.”
When you are not “typical” to someone else’s eyes, you can become the source of their judgement. Yet, that has never stopped Jude. Some may say it’s because he does not understand, but I know he does. He sees it all, but what he chooses to engage is all the good in his world. He chooses to love: to love the bright lights that capture him in awe. To love music that makes his body move and fill with happiness. To love animals that bring him peace and solitude. To love school and his educators that assist him so he can navigate his world. To love his therapists because they have adjusted his tasks with every new obstacle. To love mommy and daddy because he knows he is always safe and loved.
It is not easy to take this perspective, to ignore all the judgement and struggles, and focus only on the good. Yet, every day I witness a five-year-old who is severely disabled do it. I feel quite blessed I am able to witness such an inspiration in my daily life and I can only strive to be more like him. Maybe we can all learn a little from Jude by choosing to see others with empathetic eyes, ignore the negativity and focus on all the beauty in our life....and of course, to SMILE J