So Many Unsung Heroes and Heroines!
When asked to write about an unsung hero, many came to mind. There is, first and foremost, my greatest teacher, my son Jeremy. He has taught me what is important in this world including unconditional love, patience, understanding and acceptance. I was a bit of a slow learner but, after thirty-three years, I can honestly say that I can accept his challenges and love and encourage him just the way he is.
In my quest to help my severely mentally and physically challenged son, I met many unsung heroes including the teachers and therapists who worked with him day in and day out, the caregivers who have bathed, fed, dressed, loved and encouraged him since he was courageous enough to move to his own apartment at age twenty-three, the doctors, nurses, dentists and friends who have shown patience and caring for him and for me when they could have chosen not to, his father who has never wavered in his love and attention, and his sister who grew up loving and encouraging him through thick and thin.
All of these people and many more, too numerous to mention, are deserving of thanks and blessing. And then, in this long line of heroes, there was Judith. She was a simply brilliant woman with autism who chose to take her own challenges and create a program to help others as she had helped herself. She created strategies to integrate her sensory systems, thereby making it possible for her to tolerate the world. Her name was Judith Bluestone, author of The Fabric of Autism, and originator of the HANDLE approach. Knowing Judith was a true blessing. Watching her work her magic with children was a gift. Yes, many people knew Judith. She taught her program around the world, but in my eyes, she is the unsung hero(ine) who helped me to see that no matter what the challenge, no matter how impaired the body, the possibility of healing and improvement in the person, be it child, teen or adult, is surely possible. As a parent, and professionally as a speech pathologist, Judith taught me by example that it is my job to see the uniqueness in each person, to look beyond what is physical and discover what might be.
Unfortunately, the world lost a great teacher and change agent. Below, is a tribute, written for her memorial service.
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