I walked into the classroom as he slid down on his rocking chair. Eyes of mischief and with a steady grin on his face, I approached him to say hello. He tilted his head in response, eyes transfixed on my face and with his quiet and gentle tone of voice I heard…” your face, SQUEEZE IT!” He gently reached his hand up to my cheek and pushed it into my face.
I have been reading a book called “The Reason I Jump”, a book answering frequent questions that might be posed to someone with Autism. The author, Naoki Higashida, has autism and has written the book by pointing to letters of the Japanese alphabet. Yesterday, I was reading the answer to the question: When you look at something, what do you see first? To which, part of his response was “Sometimes I actually pity you for not being able to see the beauty of the world in the same way we do… Every single thing has its own unique beauty. People with Autism get to cherish this beauty as if it’s a kind of blessing given to us. Wherever we go, Whatever we do, we can never be completely lonely. We may look like we are not with anyone, but we’re always in the company of friends.”
I read that page twice, allowing the words to sink in as a grin swept across my face as I thought of how my students constantly see the beauty in the small things around them…
She looks at pieces of paper and plastic bags like they are $100 dollar bills. She takes an empty chip bag and rips it up meticulously into small pieces, not allowing one piece to be missed and fall to the floor. She grins as she lets the pieces fall in between her fingers.
He stops in front of each classroom, allowing his fingers to trace over the raised edges of the classroom numbers. 118, he whispers to himself as he moves on to the next sign.
In the morning he selects a tub of Playdoh. A tub of Playdoh that is so dearly loved, but is never opened. It is slightly moist from being gripped all day, but is proudly shown to all those who pass by him as if he were gripping a gold medal.
He plays the same videos over and over again, rehearsing the different stops going west on the 401. I am not quite sure how many views that youtube video has, but I am almost certain, they are all from him.
Her fingers slide back and forth on the computer screen in front of her. A video is playing… a video of someone else playing a video game on the Nintendo DS. It makes no difference to her.
He stares at his fingers and smiles, rubbing his hands together and moving them back and forth from his face. He could do this all day, with such joy and contentment.
He sneaks the unsharpened pencil into his desk. It might be his Kepltomania… But I am choosing to see this as beauty.
I wish I could see beauty the same way my students do.
I wish I could appreciate rather than fuss about small details.
I wish I could see things for what they are, rather than what they are missing.
They have so much to teach us, I have so much to learn.