We are not your average family. Both children in the family have additional needs; one is my birth child and one is my adopted child. The eldest would like to be known as Pigeon and the youngest, as Parrot. They chose these names and yes, they really do resemble those birds in their characteristics!
When someone in a family has additional needs, there is a tendency on the part of the family members to speak often about special needs and associated subjects. Realising that our child is different somehow, seeking help and diagnosis can be all consuming. It can very quickly become our whole world. Other people have said to me, “Well, his condition is just a part of him, it isn’t everything.” I agree that Pigeon is more than just autism; he is funny, intelligent, has an encyclopaedic memory, can run 25km, and is already a composer of some fabulous music. Parrot is more than his diagnoses and complex needs; he is full of energy, so good at acting that he can fool educational psychologist into thinking that he doesn’t know anything (more on that one another day!), a brilliant swimmer despite a physical disability, and has an eye for detail that astounds me.
But, and here is the point that people miss, special or additional needs is like a coloured filter or lens that is applied to the whole of our lives. It is like putting on a pair of glasses with yellow lenses. You can see everything that someone next to you can see, but it is altered by the yellow lenses. Even something simple as giving my children some sweets as treat gets this coloured lens treatment. Pigeon, until recently, wouldn’t eat chocolate unless it was the ‘right shape’, i.e. in a bar form. Easter eggs were a no-go zone for him (which meant more for me, yum!). Parrot, has a choking risk and this massively affects what sweets you can give him. Even the way we look at interests and hobbies is different. Pigeon doesn’t just like pigeons, he is completely obsessed and distracted by them; everything has to have a pigeon on it, his laptop, clothing, mugs….he even sits in trees and coos sometimes.
So please forgive us if we talk about things differently, we are seeing through a different coloured lens from you.