And so I want to share with you a little story.
2 years ago Isla was 5 and was coming up to the end of her time at mainstream school.
A few people didn’t think she should have been in that school, I heard them talk, I was told what had been said and that’s fine because their opinions were born out of a lack of understanding. Those few people thought disabled children belonged in special schools, they didn’t understand her, they thought because she couldn’t talk she didn’t understand anything, they thought she lacked empathy, they thought she wasn’t like the other kids so she didn’t belong and because she was different autism was something to be feared.
If only they’d opened their eyes and their hearts like her teaching assistants and a handful of her friends they’d have seen the beauty in her autism, what an amazing child she is and what a wonderful perspective she has on the world.
That Halloween in 2016 Isla came home with the pumpkin in the picture below.
Her TA explained to me how this pumpkin was virtually dead, it was black and shrivelled, completely unloved and nobody was remotely interested in it ……
Isla saw the pumpkin, she saw it needed love, attention and care.
She saw that it wasn’t like the other pumpkins, but she saw beyond that. She believed in it, and she saw it’s beauty. She saw it’s worth.
She decided to take it upon herself to nurture it, she gave it a chance and she loved it and took care of it.
Every day Isla tended to the pumpkin, she watered it and she cared for it and because of the attention she showered upon it, it grew.
The pumpkin blossomed. It didn’t only survive, it thrived, and with Islas care it reached its full potential.
The girl that people believed didn’t understand, the girl that people believed lacked empathy, the girl that people thought was nothing like the other kids saw what the other kids had missed, what the other kids weren’t at all bothered about, she saw that pumpkin needed her help and she proved that she had more understanding and empathy than anyone had given her credit for.
We could all learn a lot from this story.
That pumpkin is like any child, additional needs or not.
It takes just one person to make a difference in another’s life, to believe in them, to care enough to want to help them grow, to nurture them, to help them to thrive in their environment, to keep trying and not give up on them, to get them to reach their potential…………
Just like isla and her pumpkin.