Lessons From My Grandson
I have been blessed with a couple grandsons—one of which still has that new baby smell—and they mean more to me than almost anything in the world. The oldest is close to 3 years-old and he amazes me every single day. He can work the DVD player, find videos on the smart TV, and pull up his games and apps on an iPhone. He knows his colors, his shapes, and can identify the letters of the alphabet either by name or by sound (v and w are his favorites.) He is lovable and he enjoys imitating me when I sneeze, cough, and even snore. Like my family from out in the country would say, however, that boy just ain’t got around to talking, yet.
There is an organization that comes in and works with children (and parents,) and, recently, they have brought up the possibility that he might be showing signs of autism spectrum disorder. As a result of their caution, he has had a blood test to check his chromosomes—they were fine, he is scheduled for a visit to a neurologist, and they want him to see a child psychologist. They are amazed at some of things he can already do, but they want to make sure. (If you know a child around this age that might not be progressing as he or she should, this is the best time to have them checked.)
Of course, hearing this has had an affect on the family, but regardless of the outcome of the tests and the visits, he and his brother are still at the center of my universe and that will never change.
This brings up the idea of writing characters with disabilities—a term I detest, by the way. I have had the opportunity to write an autistic character before and I loved it. Looking past the stigma of his perceived shortcomings, I was able to key in on some of his idiosyncrasies and he turned out to be a very popular character.
When dealing with characters that may not measure up medically to what the world considers normal, it is best to do a little research on the subject. Don’t presume to know what kind of life they might live, or the adversities they might face, without some expert insights. Care enough about your characters to make them—and their daily challenges—believable.
Just thought I would jot this down.