I just finished writing a letter that I never even imagined could be necessary. But it seems there is still a gaping need for education. I hope it can help, even in the tiniest of ways. And I wanted to share it with you, just because…
Here it is:
Hi my name is Teddy, I am 4 and half years old. You might now me as the little boy who LOVES his Big Jet and dragon. You do? Well there, that’s me… big blue eyes & short(ish) messy brown hair!!
I wanted to share with you something: did you know my real name is Edward? My mommy and daddy nicknamed me “Teddy” when I was a baby and it stuck. Now, I don’t even turn around when people call me Edward. I also wanted to tell you something else: I have autism. I know it sounds like a weird new word, but let me tell you a little bit what is autism to me.
I feel the world through my fingertips, that’s why sometimes I like to touch your sweater or your hair, it is because they look so soft. I don’t mean to harm you or make you uncomfortable, I am actually very gentle. But it’s true that I don’t grasp the emotions in your face when you tell me to go away and to leave you alone, and it makes me very sad. I feel lonely and left out.
photo credit: Majka
It is hard for me to come up to you and ask you to play, I am trying hard, but I have a language delay and I don’t always find the right words. Next time you see me playing by the tent or draw at the table, just come over and I will be very happy to play with you.
Another thing about my autism is that I don’t very much like change, actually … I don’t like it at all but I am becoming much better at it, with a lot of practice. One of my qualities is that I am a very determined little boy, so believe me… I’ll keep trying until I get really good at it!
Eating is funny for me too; I only eat certain types of food. I like pasta (a lot!), chicken nuggets, milk, yogurt, bananas, bran muffin, chocolate chip cookies and pizza. I really dislike any colored foods, candy and soups and most often than not I prefer to eat standing. It is not because “I am a spoiled child” or that I need to learn “proper table manners”, tying me down to a chair or force-feeding me, as some people have suggested to my mom and dad, would not change anything. It is yet another thing that I have to master.
I am very smart, but I learn in a different way and my parents, my daycare educators, and the wonderful therapists that work with me over 20 hours a week are trying to figure out just how to help me best in learning and hopefully in preparing me to enter Kindergarten at the same time as you all.
I hear you sometimes say that I live in my “bubble”, I see how that could appear so. Are you curious to know what I do when I space out from the class’s activities? Well quite a few things actually: I sometimes look at how the sun rays diffract into the room as they come in through the window; I am very interested in light. I also look closely at the toy in my hand and observe its tiniest details, a few centimetres away from my eyes. It calms me. I count, forward and back, I count all sorts of things and I order them in my head. I also recite movie quotes that I have memorized: Nemo, How to Train your Dragon, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and Planes are my favorite.
So I hope these few lines will help you know me a little better and help you understand that I am just a little lovable kid, looking to fit in with his peers and eager to play and discover the world. I hope now, you will want to play with me more often and that your compassion towards my being different will grow over time.
He’s a handsome boy. You are a great Mom. Keep advocating for him. Stay strong. I’m on the same journey.
Hélène Filteau says
Quelle belle lettre Vanessa. Je trouve Teddy tellement beau et attachant. Il a un regard très profound et triste en même temps. Bon courage à toi et Jonathan en 2015 et meilleurs voeux à toute la famille.
Au plaisir de se revoir, AMITIÉS SINCÈRES, Hélène
Charlotte, reine des confettis says
Je relis encore une fois ces petits mots qui sonnent si poétiques ensemble et qui rendent cette histoire si profonde et remplie d’émotions à la fois. Je ne savais même pas que Teddy était un surnom pour Edward ! Je pensais que ton fils s’appelait Théodore.
Des bisous ma Vava.