I just finished reading Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin. Twelve year old Jason Blake tells his own story, from his own perspective. Jason writes the story he cannot speak; he writes what he feels but cannot communicate. Through Jason’s story, we gain insight and understanding into a world that is at once our own and not our own.
In grade three, Jason’s quirks were diagnosed as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Jason has had several different therapists and aides throughout the years. He has learned what people expect of him in different situations. He knows that people like it when you look them in the eye, and that sometimes, they are waiting for an answer. Even though it is very difficult for him, he tries to follow the rules. He tries to do what people want.
There is only one place where Jason can freely express himself. The Storyboard website. This is where Jason posts his stories. This is where people read and respond to his stories. This is where people can really see Jason, because they cannot see him.
What happens when his two worlds collide shows us how our immediate perceptions can often blur the reality. We can be blinded by appearances, and are often unable to see beyond them to the human being inside.
As a parent, the relationships between Jason and his parents intrigue me the most. They love him so much. He loves them but cannot tell them, cannot show them how he feels. Seeing how hard it is for Jason, and how much harder for his parents, actually made me cry.
This window into Jason’s world offers us mindful views onto a rich and beautiful landscape. It reminds us that we can never truly know what is going on inside our children’s minds. It reminds us that we must always try to attune to our children, to connect with them, and to accept them for who they are.
Anything but Typical is a wonderful story for Sunday, or any day. I hope to carry its message with me in my dealings with my own children this week.