Teach and guide all children to compassion, give them the capacity to recognise and appreciate the gifts of each individual.
— from http://www.suelarkey.com
This quote popped up on Sue Larkey’s Facebook feed, referring directly to Autism Awareness. For this reason, I have spent the last ten minutes or so trying to work out which of my blogs I should put it on.
If I wrote about it on my blog dedicated to my family’s Asperger’s journey, I could fill the space with anecdotes about the compassion of my son’s classmates (a very special group of children — who are all mainstream by the way). I could write about my son’s gifts and his very special personality. In addition, I would probably write about the lack of compassion shown by a handful of adults who should know better.
Then again, this quote is not autism specific.
The need for compassion, the importance of recognising individuals for their special qualities, applies to everyone — whether they have autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy … whether they are academically gifted or not … or whether they are just your (so-called) ordinary, run-of-the-mill Joe or Jill Bloggs from down the street.
Hence, my eventual decision to put it on this blog.
The first thought that popped into my mind on reading this quote were the words of my current Principal during one of our first staff meetings. He was talking about getting to know the children in our classes during the first few weeks of school, “Find out what makes them bubble,” he said.
I love that analogy.
Who doesn’t love bubbles?
Bubbles come in all sizes; fizzing up and floating, overflowing and surrounding us in excitement and awe. They represent something we are passionate about, or something wonderful in our personality.
But, bubbles are also fragile and easily destroyed; without care and compassion, bubbles cease to exist. In the same way, our passions and personal traits can cease to exist if they are not acknowledged and celebrated by others.
There is an art to making and maintaining bubbles; great bubbles take time, effort and education to master. Likewise, recognising and celebrating an individual’s unique gifts and characteristics is not something every person has an innate ability to do; this ability needs to be learned and nurtured.
If you sit back and watch a group of children (and adults, for that matter) indulging in ‘bubble play’ the differences in how they interact with the bubbles is amazing. Some sit at a distance and watch, fascinated. Others wander around, careful, wanting to interact and engage. Then there are the ones who run through the bubbles, determined to pop as many as they can.
Not knowing how to adequately care for and appreciate a bubble can lead to its rapid destruction. Not being able to recognise and appreciate an individual for their gifts, or their personality, can (will) lead to that person becoming demoralised … or far worse.
Everyone possesses ‘bubbles’. These occur in different forms; a passion, an ability, an interest, a ‘quirk’, a personality trait that sets them apart from others.
Not all bubbles are deemed ‘socially acceptable’; our society is cruel, demanding and way too rigid for its own good. If we don’t ‘fit in the box’ then there are issues; but who ever heard of bubbles being detained in a box?
What we desperately need is education on how to appreciate each bubble for its own beauty and wonder. We need to persevere until we find each person’s ‘bubble’. Then we need to nurture the bubble, and show its owner that his/her bubble is valued.