I want to talk about something that annoys the hell out of me.
Tonight it was my oldest child’s school show. That child gave their heart and soul to that production of a well known musical. Although they usually only attend school an hour or so a week, they were there from first thing until late night everyday this week and on Sunday’s leading up to this week. My child wasn’t on the stage, that would be too overwhelming for them as my child is high functioning ASD, they headed up the lighting crew with a team of quirky volunteers, something this child has a real talent and passion for. At the end of the show, acknowledgement and thanks was given to the cast, the producer, the band and conductor, the sound man yet not one mention was given to the technical team who worked every bit as hard as all the other people involved. Then the music played again and people started to leave. My heart sank for the children standing with my child at the light and sound equipment and controls their contribution went un recognised. I appreciate it was likely an oversight and they were likely not deliberately left out. These actions have consequences though. The show wouldn’t have been the spectacular event it was without their contribution.
My heart broke for those kids and my child. As everyone was leaving you could see the disappointment on their faces.
Why is it so hard to recognise achievement when it happens in a less obvious way?
I have watched my child grow into a beautiful young person who gives so much through volunteering to our community, school hasn’t worked for them because most made no effort to understand my child and those who did understand were powerless to help them achieve in the way that is expected and recognised of our young people.
Despite this my child has learned to achieve in their own unique way.
Why though is it so hard to acknowledge those achievements?
Why are “thank you” and “well done” so hard for some to say?
I wish all the achievements of individuals were recognised and not just those of the high flyers that occur in the conventional manner.
When someone takes the time to acknowledge an individuals achievements you boost their self esteem, you build confidence, you make that person and their contribution no matter how small feel valued.
You make that person want to contribute more.
You make that person try harder.
You make that person believe in themselves.
In my experience for many on the Spectrum the majority of achievements even the small everyday ones are often much harder to gain, because they have to juggle sensory issues, learning from the inside out, processing delays, focusing difficulties, difficulties with interpretation, the need for repetition, the difficulties of overcoming rigidly all impact on ones ability to learn and achieve.
I know this is how it can be through personal experience as l am currently a University Student myself. I struggle to concentrate, I struggle to understand, I burn out.
I wholeheartedly appreciate every “Well done” every “You can do it” every “I am proud of you.” They help me keep going they stop me giving up.
My child has been a pupil at their school for four years and not once has their unique achievements been recognised.
The message you give to someone on the Spectrum and infact anyone who tried really hard to contribute when their achievements go unrecognised is it wasn’t worth the effort, you leave them asking “why did I put myself through that?”
You leave them feeling they are not good enough.
My youngest child is classed as having low functioning ASD they are unlikely to achieve the expected achievements of their peer group such as sitting exams, going to university, having a job even living independently. That doesn’t mean they don’t make progress although slow and small. That doesn’t mean their contribution is of no value.
In our house we celebrate everyone’s achievements no matter how small or large. We encourage pride and self belief. We value every little step. Everyone needs those other than the people we live with to recognise our efforts and achievements too.
Just stop and think what an amazing society we would live in if everyone’s efforts and achievements were recognised and valued .
Everyone would feel included.
We can build a society like that and it all begins with two words that take two seconds to say …..
Try it, next time you see someone achieve something that is an achievement for them, even if to you it is something small and insignificant.
I promise you will watch them grow.