Finding the similarities and embracing differences

-A A +A

Column by Ben Sheroan

It shouldn’t be surprising to see yourself in the actions of your kids and grandkids. But somehow it just is.

Take Jacob, for example. He’s the oldest child of my oldest child but the second oldest in our group of four grands.

During the Easter egg hunt at our house last Sunday, Jake didn’t feel the need to join in. He was doing his own thing.

Very often, he’s perfectly content with his own company.

Frankly, that sounds like a definition of his grandfather.

Like me, he loves sports. Despite inheriting Grandpa’s limited athleticism, Jacob just finished basketball season, is now on a baseball team and he’s played organized soccer.

Although he’s only 8, Jake probably has mangled about a half dozen cakes in his life. He struggles with what his Mom calls impulse control.

I wish parents had called it something nice like that when I was 8.

It’s important to focus on what Jacob and I have in common because many people notice only how he’s different.

For example, he has bright orange hair that causes him to stand out in most crowds. He also has autism.

April is Autism Awareness Month and I’ve learned a lot about autism. For example, it’s a diagnosis. Please don’t use it as a label.

It does not define who Jake is any more than his hair color. It describes something that he and we strive to address just as your family might deal with a child’s chronic cough, allergy or a broken arm.

Autism spectrum disorder and autism are general terms for a group of very complex brain development disorders.

Yes, it means Jacob sometimes will act and react differently than others.

But here’s something else I’ve learned. All my grandchildren are unique and sometimes act and react differently than I might expect.

If you meet Jacob or any child dealing with autism, remember that our similarities and our differences define us.

Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at 270-505-1764 or bsheroan@thenewsenterprise.com.