james- bringing out the best

JamesBy Carolin

My mother-in-law told me a story one time that I found down right frightening, “Sarah told me that when she was a little girl she wanted to write with her left hand.  Every time she picked up a crayon or a pencil she was drawn to use her left hand.  Every time she tried using her right hand she felt awkward and uncomfortable.  Unfortunately Sarah’s teacher believed that a person could not write correctly with their left hand.  Every time Sarah got caught using her left hand she would get struck with a ruler.”

When I heard this story I wondered how anyone could be so cruel and misguided.  Why would this teacher believe that to write with their left hand was an offense that deserved to be punished?  I think this prejudice against people that are left handed has faded over time, but often times there still is a prejudice against those with special needs.

My oldest son James has autism and I myself have experienced times when I wished James acted more normal.  I have seen him flap his arms, line up his toys and have seen the way he looks at things.  I know that his mind does not work the same way that mine does.  I believe that working with James has some similarities to working with a child that is left handed.  Sometimes I feel like I need to let go of my prejudice every day.  I often have to remind myself that the goal is not to make James normal.  What needs to be done is to teach James how to become the best that he can be.

I have written a children’s book called, Buried Treasure Finding Hope and Understanding in Autism.  This was inspired not just by James, but by our whole family.  Helping James become his best has been a team effort for all of us.  We have come together as a family, where God’s hand is already at work.  God already knows what James at his best looks like, and we as a family have faith that God will lead us there.  Even though my youngest son Keith is only two years old, I have already seen him working with his brother.  I have heard Keith yell, “Get him!” and then wrestle with James on the floor.  I have seen Keith try to hand James the pieces of the puzzle James is working on just so James will interact with Keith.

Every member of our family has been in the role of both student and teacher.  My two boys and my husband Bill have taught me so much about love and life.  Together we have learned so much about what it means to be a loving family.  When it comes to helping people with special needs become the best they can be, we all need to be in this journey together.  As we help those with special needs become their best, they in turn will bring out the best in us.

To find out more about Carolin’s book, you can view it here: http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-60696-053-0


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  1. I just looked at the book link and think it will be super for a friend’s extended family that is having difficulty with “getting it”. Thanks for sharing this resource.

  2. Yes, my first grade teacher did whack my left hand with a ruler when I would have a pencil or crayon in it! Although I managed to learn to use the hand that didn’t get whacked, I still do many things left handed. In teaching first grade for MANY years, my left-handed students would be amazed that such things would have happened.

    We see many different students with many different needs. We have to keep accepting kids where they are and help them to be the best they can become!

    We all have to keep working on being the best we can be so we can help others be the best they can be!

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