This I Believe

Karyn - USA
Entered on January 16, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: tolerance

I believe in tolerating people with differences. Tolerating may mean an inconvenience and going about your business.

I have a unique family situation that causes me to put up with different rules than I do with other kids in my family. I have to alter my lifestyle completely when I go to see my cousin. My cousin has autism; a disability that causes learning and speech delays, which can often result in very stressful situations. Days for relaxation may end up being loud and chaotic, leaving the entire family with high tempers.

Individuals with autism, including my cousin, have idiosyncrasies and rituals they follow to remain calm. If these are not fulfilled, the person can become upset and extremely anxious about the current situation. Kids at a young age like my cousin who have not started to talk yet get frustrated easily and don’t know how to cope with it; they squeeze their hands and tighten up because they can’t do anything else besides that to express their anger. Even going out to dinner could turn out to be a huge catastrophe.

My cousin will go off in his own little world and stay there. Most autistic people are very smart; they just don’t have very good verbal skills. The sad thing is, they do not have a cure to autism. Children with autism need speak therapy to help them learn how to speak. Scientists say that if a child does not learn how to speak before five years of age, they may never (implies ever) learn how to speak. My cousin is almost five, and he may never speak. My uncle and the speech therapist are trying hard to teach him to but he isn’t able yet.

I am sure sometimes people look at my uncle and think, “Why can’t he keep control of his child?” This country has many diverse people and it’s necessary to be able to communicate and get along with as many of them as possible. Since I have a cousin with special needs, I am exposed to unexpected situations and I recognize the value of tolerance.