By Shanti Kurada, MS, MBA
One afternoon, I was standing in line at Target, behind a mom and son. The boy clearly had profound autism. He seemed completely non-verbal and cut off from the world. He was stimming on the seat belt of the cart, and for a moment, his isolation seemed absolute.
Then I saw his mom kneel down and get to this level. She tickled him playfully. He smiled. His eyes became focused. He raised his arm, asking for more. In an instant, they were transformed. They became any other mother and child, sharing a happy moment.
She then proceeded to get his help in placing the items on the counter. She asked for his help in loading the bags. Finally, she had him thank the cashier.
This mother and son reminded me that the way we act with our children speaks volumes to the people around us. Her simple actions of empathy and respect toward her child drove home the message better than all the speeches, articles, and books written on the subject.
When we consciously show our faith in our children, we teach our friends and family to do the same. When we expect our children to be responsible and allow them to be independent problem solvers, so will the community around us. When we speak to our children as if they fully understand, when we act as if they matter, the world follows.