Thursday, July 17, 2014

Glimpse: The Importance of Community

When I walk into the cafeteria at the school where I work I'm often struck by how the students select their seats. Almost fifty different nations are represented in that sea of heads arranged into little groups, each with something major in common. Most often, and sometimes most visibly, the magnet that pulls them together is their ethnicity and/or native language. Sometimes, though, that magnet is a common interest. Look a little closer to that sea of heads and you'll find a table or two of skaters, a couple for the artists, several full of athletes, and others for the goth kids, the actors, the politicians and any other group you might think of.

This separation isn't self-segregation--it's not truly exclusive. But it is clearly self-selection, and it has an important function in a diverse society: self-preservation.

It's a scary world out there and people find comfort in what they know.

The same is true for families touched by Down syndrome, or autism, or cerebral palsy or cancer or diabetes. The ability to spend time with people who already "get it" is invaluable. "Baby" is 12 months old and not crawling...big deal. "Toddler" is two, 30 lbs. and not walking...get a handicap placard for the car. "Preschooler" is almost 4 and still in diapers...relax my dear, it'll come. No explanation and certainly no justification necessary. Just mutual understanding, and more importantly, support.

They speak the same language

Last Saturday was my day to indulge in this self-preservation with my little T21 Club. We were a small group--summer is a busy time for everyone--but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. While our kiddos played we mommas discussed the usual: milestones, Early Intervention, IEP's, potty training, communication supports, sleep studies and specialists.

We watched little Xavi, not quite one year old, crawl on all fours. We laughed when Max and Nathan pulled all the toys off the shelves in the walk-in closet effectively blocking their exit and then started hollering when they couldn't find a way back out. Tiffany soaked up the all the extra hugs she received that afternoon, and Bonnie and I both teared up when our boys, about four months apart, played with a ball together (milestone) and began to takes turns babbling. Full on conversation style. Bonnie and I, astonished, looked at each other and she said, "Oh my gosh! They speak the same language."
The closet before about five minutes before the hollering.

Just seconds from crawling.
You just can't see the ball.
In between hugs.
Hard at work.