Saturday, September 26, 2015

Learning to bend

We were in the company of a young man around Sam’s age one day this summer. We didn’t know his story – our paths were only destined to cross that one time.  At first glance it appeared his skill set was more advanced than Sam’s – he had the gift of language.

It became clear the young man’s needs were great. His communication skills were not enough to get him through an unfamiliar environment and a change in plans. While Sam needed supports, at this moment young man needed more. We accommodated by asking Sam to be patient and let the young man go ahead of us. We asked Sam to tolerate noise that would have otherwise been a challenge.

Though he hasn’t had much practice, Sam was able to bend for a peer that day. He waited patiently and showed empathy, asking if the young man was OK, trying to pat his shoulder. I was proud of Sam’s generous spirit. I was glad he wanted to help.

Over the years, we've expected others to make accommodations for Sam hundreds upon hundreds of times. It got me to thinking how much we live in our own world not realizing how much we ask of those around us. I like to think each offer of patience provided the grace notes Sam needed to develop the coping skills he used to accommodate this young man.

It also reminded me the world isn’t only about us; the world can’t only revolve round Sam’s needs. It is important for Sam to learn to bend and to give back – even if only a little. That’s what community is about, each of us doing what we can to ensure the success of one another.

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