When someone knows your name

It takes just one person to make a difference. Someone to care, someone to action something, someone to notice. When someone knows your name it changes things. And what can seem a little thing can often have major significance. Just because someone knew your name and was willing to care.

Take this week for example:

Safety adaptations at last!

We have been pushing for some safety adaptions to our house for almost a year now. Little adaptions that could make a huge difference to our quality of life with two disabled children. It felt like we were getting nowhere until one person came to see us this week. This professional has been working with my family for months now doing home visits and spending a lot of time working with us to help us. She works for the social work department but isn’t a social worker. She noticed a record on our file that said ‘mum seems to have hurt her knee’ and so she was expecting a little graze and nothing more. Not crutches and a knee splint and trips to the local hospital. She left promising so much. And it happened! Within two days we had someone out doing this to the front of our house:

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And it is making a huge difference. To me, to Isaac, to Naomi. Even when the knee injury is long forgotten and the children are grown up these railings could still be there. As a sign someone knew my name and was willing to do something to help. It really doesn’t take much to touch another life.

Speech therapy finally!

Then there is the speech therapy story about Naomi. Naomi’s name was first known to speech therapy in March last year when she was referred by her paediatrician. They agreed to put her on the autism pathway and refer her for diagnosis but having seen her in a clinic session just once she was then suspected of having selective mutism. So her name got forgotten. It became an anxiety issue rather than a speech issue and her name was no longer an active case. No-one seemed to know about her anymore. She might have had an annual review but as the therapist was about to go on maternity leave it would depend on her name and case being transferred. And then we moved house. So we applied again for speech therapy as we were now in another town. We waiting until her name reached the top of the waiting list and then we recieved a call from a therapist. It was a thorough call, but at the end of 45 minutes her name was still not getting put forward for therapy. I still felt they could help, nursery felt they could help and her educational psychologist wanted them to help. But with the thoughts of selective muteness still there their hands were tied. I continued to fight and push for the service but I was getting nowhere.

Meanwhile the original therapist had her baby. And time passed. Her baby moved onto solid food, leant to sit up and crawl and even said his first word…while my 4 year old still had no confidence to speak in nursery. But then something amazing happened. The therapist returned from maternity and on going through her files came across my daughter’s name. She went that extra mile and through detective work managed to get our new phone number and called me for an update. She knew my daughter’s name! Do you have any idea how amazing it feels when someone remembers you? And wants to help. So we had a phone discussion and I became quite emotional. Because this is my daughter and I know she needs support. Because I had been fighting so long for something that I was beginning to think might never happen. And all of a sudden someone remembered her name. So Naomi’s notes will now be transferred over with a covering letter saying she should be fast tracked for therapy as soon as a therapist become available. Never give up fighting. Never stop praying for breakthrough.

Junk mail will never be the same again

You can tell junk mail straight away. Why? Because they don’t know your name! And like most people, we get our fair share of ‘junk’ put through our door. This week we had a catalogue delivered. The kind old people usually get (perhpas those adaptations we had done might work against us here) that would usually only get filled in that round filing cabinet also known as a recycle bin. But on my way to the bin the phone went and I temporarily placed the brochure on the coffee table. My son has been eternally grateful for that call. Because I forgot all about that magazine until he came home from school. And he spotted it. And he certainly never thought it was junk in any way! The magazine in question was from a home delivery company specialising in prepared meals delivered to your door. The prices were immaterial to my non verbal autistic son but the bright, colourful, mouth watering pictures of the meals were like heaven to him. Nothing I could have bought him from any toy shop or book shop would ever be of so much interest to him than this item of mail. He turned the pages one by one (a very recently acquired skill) looking at every picture

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and when he found one that really interested him he flapped and became vocal:

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and he even allowed it to be a shared experience. There was something so beautiful about this moment when he took dads hand and placed it over the pictures he wanted to share with dad. He has only ever did this with mum before. He rarely lets us into his world. Shared moments like this are rare and therefore treasured.

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That book went to bed with him, went to school with him and even came to church with us. But we knew it would eventually get ripped and we would have a distraught child. So dad emailed the company and asked them if we could have any old brochures and what our son had done with their catalogue. Until then the company never knew our names, or anything about us. We were a number, a random house to deliver to, just a potential customer among many hundreds.

They have since called us and emailed us. And they have prepared a ‘goody bag’ for my son. His name has been the talk of their office this week. They have even offered to send samples of food to his special needs school. Ok, so the cynics reading this might just think they have found a new business venture. Or they might actually feel that they could make a difference.

But to me it is special however you look at it.

It takes just one person to make a difference. Someone to care, someone to action something, someone to notice. Someone to know your name. We all need people like that in our lives. And we can all be that someone to someone else.

And you know what? God knows your name too.

“Before I was born the Lord called me, from my birth he has made mention of my name” Isaiah 49:2

That is really amazing!

Making a difference

Sometimes life can seem so full of mundanities: getting up, going to work, getting children out to school on time, eating, housework, looking after children, going about your daily business and so on. Each day can feel the same and time passes quickly. One week turns into a month and seasons change before our eyes. And you wonder: Am I making a difference?

You most likely are. Even when you don’t realise it.

It’s often the everyday events that change lives. One little idea, one smile, one hug, can make a huge difference to someone else. It is in the talking everyday to your child in the car that builds up a strong relationship that will last a lifetime. It’s in the keeping the routines that your children grow up feeling secure and loved. It’s in the going to work everyday that you build up character and faithfulness and in the looking after young babies that you get to know and understand the uniqueness of each of your children. It’s in the everyday things that you are making a difference.

I’m a stay at home mum with two preschool children. They both have special needs. My everyday life is full of mundanities. Everyday can be the same mix of eating, washing dishes, playing with children, cleaning, washing children, dressing children, changing nappies, taking them to activities, ensuring they get to and from nursery and doing the same bedtime routine night after night after night. I often feel I am not getting anywhere or making any difference. This can feel so much worse because of my children’s developmental delay and autism. I can feel trapped by their insistence on sameness and lack of progress. It can get boring reading the exact same bedtime story every night.

But then they achieve something. Sometimes just a tiny little thing. Sometimes something quite amazing and significant. And you realise you are making a difference to a life.

For four and half years I have taken my children shopping. My daughter now understands basic concepts like choosing a product, having to wait until you have paid for it before it becomes yours, handing items over to cashiers to be paid for and even that coins, pieces of paper or plastic cards can be used as payments for items you want. I can see through her play that she can use a toy till and role play being a customer or cashier. But my son has just sat in a trolley seat for 4 and a half years staring into space…until this week. This week he reached out for an item when shopping, held the item around the store and then…to my amazement…placed the item onto the conveyer belt at the checkout to pay for it! He screamed for the item to be returned very quickly into his possession but he is learning slowly. He still can’t yet form a point or say the words required to ask for something but he is slowly becoming more aware of the world around him. He knew the item he wanted had to be paid for and that you put it on a belt and then get it back. He has been taking all this in while staring at the ceiling lights for 4 and a half years!

We are making a difference to him. His nursery teachers are making a difference. His speech therapist is making a difference. Taking him to church and clubs every week is making a difference. Our everyday life is slowly helping him progress.

Another new thing he is now doing is holding whatever is in his hands up and looking at us. Speech therapists refer to it as showing joint interest. He is wanting feedback from us. He is wanting to know what something is, or perhaps what colour it is or what it does. He is aware of us so much more! He sees we can teach him something. He wants to share something that interests him with me. Wow! Parents so often take these tiny things as so trivial but in my world these stages are beautiful moments worthy of excitement and mention. It doesn’t matter what it is he is showing me. It doesn’t matter how chewed it is or how obscure it is. He showed me a label off of a pair of socks today several times. I would have discarded without thought but to him it held interest and he wanted me to share in that interest. So I looked at his label with him and told him countless times that it was a label. We are interacting.

Don’t get too weary and bogged down in the little things of life or the mundanities of everyday tasks. Whether you are working in an office, a cashier in a shop, a bus driver, a teacher, a nurse, a student or a stay at home mum, you are making a difference to someone. Someone needs to see your smile, be encouraged by your achievements, have a hug or just simply hear your voice. The everyday things matter and progress, no matter how small, is always a step in the right direction. Your life is making a difference. And I am encouraged by everyone of you who cares enough to read this. You have made a difference to me. Thank you x
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