My son, the same one who deserves the Nobel Peace Prize from an earlier post, Loves Little Lessons, reinforced that sentiment during a recent weekend visit.
Justin was born with a big heart. Both literally and figuratively. His ability to empathize with people in life who experience pain or suffering is beyond huge. It is monumental. Though he has a difficult time with eye contact due to his autistic-like behaviors, his peripheral sensitivity to the people in his universe often astounds me. His attention span is scattered, yet the minute there is mention of some great disaster like the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan he watches the news with rapt attention and expresses his sadness for months for the people affected. He is the Gandhi of my own heart.
Though he has always struggled with gross motor coordination and a seizure disorder, the limitations of his physical body have never stopped him from playing baseball, practicing Aikido, hiking, riding a bicycle and yes, even ice skating. He is as brave as any Olympic athlete out there and faces each task with staid determination and joy.
Justin was born with amazing fine motor control and an innate understanding of all things electronic. Before he could walk he had figured out the CD player, the VHS, and all the buttons on the dishwasher. By the time he was eight, he was able to memorize dance moves and song lyrics from videos on first watch as well as quote lines from movies and recite which star belonged to which voice in animated films. When he turned ten, he could find his way around on the internet and play video games with the dexterity of a pro. Though he couldn’t read a book, spell more than his name and address and struggled to grasp basic math, he has always been my Einstein.
My son has had to work extremely hard against difficult odds to accomplish what for most of us has been second nature. Yet he continues to do things that amaze me on a daily basis. He shares a house with roommates, works for Agilent Technologies, does his own banking, navigates the city bus system by himself, goes shopping at the mall and has a social calendar that is packed full. Though he was handed a variety of labels and prognosis by doctors and educators throughout his childhood, those labels have never defined him. He is as unique as they come. And now he tells me he is “in training for the Human Race.” But I know beyond a doubt he has already perfected that task and has a whole lot to teach the rest of us about pushing on to reach the finish line.