Special children – to love or to heal?
Our elder son is special. I have already written about it here. Some psychologists and other narrow-
minded specialists prefer to call him «ill». But I don’t think so.
My son can walk by himself. He almost entirely can attend to himself. The only thing that gives itself
away is his speech. He cannot yet communicate by phrases and dialogues. Yet.
For me the other thing is important. He is really special. He views the world differently. And this is really
interesting and is worth paying attention to. He is capable of seeing a small airplane behind the clouds.
He can immediately see a train on the horizon. He has very observant eyes and quickly memorizes
everything. He is a surprisingly clever boy. At his five he knows all the alphabet and can count to twenty.
And he learned it all by himself. With the help of technology devices which he also learns to use by
of psychologists and doctors we visit always ask standard questions. What is your diagnosis? Which
treatment do you pursue? Do you realize he has to go to school soon? You need a correctional
kindergarten! And so on.
And no one has ever asked us – what are his worries? What does he really like? In what sphere might he
realize himself? What abilities does he have?
Unfortunately enough, all they see is diagnosis.
Meanwhile, 25% of Microsoft programmers are autistic. Even Bill Gates himself is on autistic spectrum.
Bob Dylan, Van Gogh, Einstein, Newton, Spielberg, Lincoln, Da Vinci – genius or mental illness?
Temple Grandin is also autistic. And she is an outstanding woman! And who cares that she only eats
jello and yogurt. It’s more interesting how she thinks in pictures. How she feels animals. How she
understands other autistic people. How she overcomes her fears and learn to communicate with the
The one thing is important. We see problems in special children. But they also have potential!
I know a person who is now 25 years old. And many years ago his father was told that his son would
never be able to walk and to talk. But he can run. And even wins competitions. He develops his own
business and fully provides for himself.
Yes, his movements and his speech are far from being perfect. But does it really matter? I am sure that
one day he will meet a girl who will see his beautiful soul. Because he loves children so much and they
also like to play with him. And this is a sign that he will have babies. And he will become the best father.
I don’t mean to complain. I saw deeply autistic children at dolphin therapy in Sevastopol. But I also
saw their parents who have wings of faith and determination. They help their children to realize their
potential step by step.
I saw an amazing ten-year-old boy with «ICP» diagnosis. But this diagnosis cannot describe his shining
eyes when he is walking by himself! Yes, holding his father’s hand and leaning on his walking-stick, but
he is walking by himself! And how can this diagnosis describe how much I enjoyed sitting next to him
and talking to him.
And how can a diagnosis describe the way a child sees the world? Or tell about his abilities and talents?
There are a lot of gifted artist among special children. They have unconventional drawing techniques
and their drawings stand out.
And when I enter another doctor’s office I hear same questions over and over again:
How was your labour?
At what age did your child start walking?
When did you notice something is wrong with him?
What are you hoping for?
You know, I’m not hoping for anything. I know that my child is special. He is the best. I wouldn’t change
him for ten «healthy» ones. Because such health is relative. It may well happen that in ten years just few
of those «healthy» children will become happy. And many of them will have an ordinary life «from work
My child is the best for me. Thanks for him I discovered so many things about myself than one article
wouldn’t be enough to list them all. My worldview, my principles, my way of thinking and my lifestyle –
all those were changed by a «knee-high to a grasshopper» boy with deep and thoughtful blue eyes.
And I want to believe that one day Medical Universities will introduce such subjects as «How to see
a soul behind the diagnosis?», «How to see potential of a patient?», «How to stop healing and start
helping?». And in Psychological Institutes specialists will start to ask themselves: «What comes first –
problems or resources?», «Peculiarities– abnormality or genius?», «Is it right to make all children fit into
one child development calendar – or should we see a personality in every child?»
Thanks God, there are such specialists. There are far too few of them and waiting lists to see such
specialists are really long. But it is well worth the wait. One meeting with such specialist can inspire you
for a longtime period of work. We were blessed to meet such specialist as Lubov Nikolaevana Enenkova.
And I would like to thank her immensely. Later we also met other wonderful specialists. And I am so
glad their number is increasing.
I stand for learning to love special children instead of constantly healing them. Because so often healing
means trying to fit a child into some age norms and patterns.
And loving, before everything else, means to believe in a child and help him to mature.
Olga Valyaeva – valyaeva.com
Translated by Anna Shcherbina