One thing I love about FIT’s winter break is that it’s so long. We have over a month to celebrate, travel and rejuvenate before beginning the new semester and it’s much appreciated. This break I have been able to accomplish so much and there’s still two weeks left. One main priority of mines was to spend as much time with Catherine as possible. Catherine is essentially my ten year old daughter, or at least it feels like it. I’ve been playing with her since I was a sophomore in high year school, six years, and have learned so much from her. I’ve found that kids are some of the best teachers because they are unknowingly honest, haven’t learned to view the world through the various lenses adults have and are usually far less judgmental then adults as well.
Catherine is extra special. She has Aspergers Syndrome, which is on the high end of the Autism spectrum. I began playing wit Catherine in high school to combat my fears of people with special needs, (not to mention the pay was pretty great for a high school sophomore.) But what started as a part time job grew into a journey of love and acceptance. As mentioned before, I will admit that I was afraid or people with special needs, mostly because I didn’t know or ever have to interact with people with special needs.
Throughout the years of play with Catherine, I’ve learned that people with special needs and I are not very different, we experience the world in different ways. I am not necessarily smarter or better then her, we just excel in different capacities. She can do things I wish I could do. Her memory is astonishing. She can hear something once and repeat it back perfectly, it’s simply amazing. What is most amazing though, is her lack of judgement and ability to truly love unconditionally. I don’t think even think race or color resonates with her, the only color she ever makes a fuss about is the color of my hair ( which is constantly changing). People claim to be “color-blind,” which is simply not true. There are several studies that prove that color is the first thing humans notice, it does cover our entire body, making it a bit difficult to ignore. Being loved by someone who does try and turn a blind eye to our differences, but rather simply accepts me as I am, is a privilege.
I could literally write an entire paper on what Catherine has taught me. As we get closer to the beginning of the semester, remember the classroom is not the only to place to learn. Grow your soul.
(Here’s a photo of us from this summer attempting to paddle boat)
All things Color, Love & Fashion,