I have written previously at great length the benefits of being raised by the people who adopted me at the age of 6. It is now time to give kudos to the “other” grandparents. Rodney’s mom and step-father. Also know as Miriam and Roy. Samantha was born in 1994 into a family with special needs as a focus. Sam’s pappy, Rodney’s step-father since Rod was 18 a one Roy Eugene Yohe was blinded after his automobile hit a pole at a pretty good clip (he was speeding). Roy was 18 at the time and by the time I met him in 1986 he was 40 years old.
Samantha’s relationship with her Pappy was one of mutal respect and love. When she was little she asked about his blindness and as we always try to do we told her the truth geared toward a child of whatever age she would have been when she asked the question she was asking. We never tried to sugar coat or brush off things. If she asked then she deserved an honest answer. She accepted her grandfather as he was and never really questioned it again. The exposure to her grandfather has aided Sam in understanding the disadvantage that some of us deal with. She is more compassionate toward those who are being subjected to bullying tactics whether they be in school and it’s a kid to kid thing, or if the bullying occurs between adults.
My mother in law; Miriam also added a great deal to the mix in regards to information. About six months before JR was diagnosed (February 2000) mom was watching a special on the Discovery Health channel. The subject matter was about a little (age about 6 or 7) boy with autism. By this time JR was showing all the classic symptoms but of course was yet to be diagnosed. She called us after the program and told us flat out that JR had autism. Rodney and I just blew her off. We were still in the mind set that the “professionals” knew better than we the lay person did. My mother in law was as much a lay person as what we were at the time. I used to kick myself for not listening to Miriam. I was especially frustrated when I found out that the therapists who were treating JR for almost a year before the diagnosis also suspected autism. They didn’t say a word to us. They told us they couldn’t. If they would have said something we would have moved on it much earlier than we did.
I too come from a family with a special needs individual. A person that I spent a great deal of time with especially during the summers. My cousin Johnny was born with downs syndrome in an era before it even had a name. Johnny is a good and kind soul and will help if he can. Being around Johnny taught me about acceptance and tolerance. He too was a very good teacher.
Being exposed to individuals with special issues has benefited all of us on one level or another. I think it’s time that society open its eyes and see these individuals for who they are. Filled with potential and a great opportunity for the rest of us to learn patience, tolerance, and acceptance.