Every special needs kid has their own way of seeing the world, their own lens and perspective. My daughter Veronica is blind, so she sees the world through her other senses, which seems to paint a pretty amazing picture. Many times when we’re out in a new environment she’ll start giggling for seemingly no apparent reason. But if I stop and close my eyes for a few minutes and focus on what I hear, my ears start separating out the sounds and I hear things in more detail; the different conversations, the kid playing with the toy near us, the cars, the breeze in the trees. I hear things that I was kind of picking up before, but were all merged together as part of a visual picture, and were mostly unnoticeable to me. Then I hear the funny, off-key ding-dong noise that is being made sporadically by the door of a nearby store and I realize that’s what she’s laughing at. I wasn’t even aware of that before. I love that she opens up new doors for me to experience.
When we travel we try to make audio files of parts of our trip for Veronica’s own kind of scrapbook. My favorite one is of us on Pismo Beach Christmas morning when Veronica was about 3 and a half. She was still tiny and we hiked along the beach and in the dunes with her in a child’s backpack with sunshade, she looked like Cleopatra. The funny thing is, all of my photos were somehow deleted, so all I have of this memory is my audio file – I love it! I hear my oldest, then 6, chattering away, my husband trying to answer her millions of questions and telling Veronica about how he used to ride his quad on these dunes, how they seem to go on forever, the waves in the background, our dog.
Next time you’re out with your kids, take a few minutes to enjoy that experience in a new way. Stop, close your eyes, breathe deep and hear the sights. You’ll be surprised at what you’ve been missing.