When I recently attended an advance prescreening of Intelligent Lives, a wonderful film by Dan Habib that will challenge our definition of intelligence when it is released next year, in the discussion that followed the clip, a number of participants from the film were answering audience questions. Suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, one of the young people featured in the film, a young man from Boston, rose to address the assembled viewers.
We all waited while Naieer composed his thoughts and for the next few minutes, the audience allowed Naieer the time and space to share with us. I felt the energy charging through the room as we all connected and supported Naieer to actively participate in the discussion. We did not need to give much, just our respect and our time - two things we should give to every person. Two things that cost us nothing, but mean everything. Naieer had something to say and all he needed was the time to compose his thoughts and forum to share his words. It was inspiring to be a part of this moment.
It got me thinking about the nature of my work with MomsRising and how frequently my work intersects with the perspective I have gained from parenting a child living with a disability. My son, Anthony, was born with a rare genetic disorder - Mosaic Trisomy 22. He has had a host of surgeries and therapies and other assistance and we are very lucky that he has improved and improved over his 8 years of life, we still struggle with the reality of doctors appointments and specialists who all have their opinions.
While Anthony's physical challenges have abated, he continues to struggle with his hearing loss. Anthony is completely deaf in his right ear and has limited hearing on his left. We are still working to get him the access to sound he needs. It is a constant struggle to make sure he has the technology he needs, that he and his teachers are comfortable using it, and do indeed use it! If there is one thing I wish for him it would be that people give him the time and space to engage. Ants looks a bit different, but he has a lot to say and a he simply needs a little bit more time and patience and you will be amazed at what you discover. BTW - he is obsesses with US Presidents - so throw and trivia his way!