The Little Things...

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It began just like any other trip to see Santa. The kids were overly excited; both anxious to get in the car and go sit on Santa’s lap. Our five year old little girl, Paisley, began reviewing her wish list, excited to tell Santa the things she hoped to wake up to Christmas morning. At the age of two and a half, our little boy, Caden, showed his excitement in ways that came natural for him as well. The look on his face spoke more than words ever could have.Our little girl has always been ahead of the pack. Most things tend to come easy to her. She’s taller than most of her classmates, seemingly more mature than many of her peers, excels in school, and has been incredibly verbal since a very young age. She began talking early and to this day, I’m not sure she’s stopped. But as many parents know, even created from the same DNA, siblings can be completely different as each child is unique.To contrast, our little boy struggles to speak. His need is significant enough that we began early intervention when he turned two. He’s always been behind his peers when it comes to any linguistic skill. When developmental benchmarks indicated he should have been able to say 10 words, he wasn't able to say any. When he should have had 50 words, he had maybe 7 or 8. We’re proud of every ounce of progress and each new word is a cause for celebration. Progress is slow - even as hard as he tries. What came naturally and with ease for our daughter, is an incredible challenge for our son.Over time, Caden has learned to communicate with many nonverbal cues and through some basic sign language. As we work diligently each day to support our little love, his smile radiates, as his sweet, loving attitude outshines his linguistic struggles. Like any child who struggles to communicate, there are times he gets frustrated when those in his world don't seem to understand him.Walking in to see Santa that Saturday morning was very predictable. Gasps, smiles, and little screams of excitement were followed by a few moments of being star-struck and shy. When it was our turn to see the big guy himself, both kids ran right up to him, excited to see him before Christmas. Paisley rattled off all the things she was hoping for and how she’d been a good girl this year. Santa smiled and turned his attention to our little boy, who began to use his sign language to communicate what he wanted most for Christmas -- toy trains.Santa could have chosen to use words to respond. But he didn’t. He could have looked to us as parents asking us what it was that our boy wanted. But he didn’t. Santa got down close to him and learned the sign that our little boy was using. Santa smiled and began to sign the same thing back - trains. The smile and pure joy of our boy was something we’ll never forget. Santa realized that the boy in front of him - our boy - had significant communication needs. Rather than hustle him off so that he could move through the line and see the next child, Santa met him exactly where he was. He took a few extra moments to make our little boy feel like he mattered and that his words, through his fingers, were heard.Those of us who work in schools, whether leading classrooms or entire schools, face similar choices each day. Do we take the extra moment to look in the eyes of child, recognize their unique needs and meet them where they are? Or are we too busy moving on to our next task? How about for our peers? Do we take the extra moment to support, encourage, and build colleagues up, so they too know that those around them care? Sometimes it’s the little things - such simple things - that can make the biggest impact.Thank you, Santa, for meeting our little boy where he is and for taking the time to communicate - in his way.The little things…

BlogTom Murray4 Comments