How often do we, ourselves see or listen to
someone and think: What a freak!
This would be because we do not agree with
their outrageous (to us) ideas, they look strange
or damn right scary (think extreme piercing and
body art). It took me many, many years to take
time before I judge somebody regardless of the
first impression and it proved not all of these
people are "freaks". They are different and there
usually is a reason or philosophy behind their
behaviour or image.
Cirwen often hears that word aimed at her from
children her age. And yes, she is different in so
many ways. The way she finds a conversation
boring, because it is just a small talk, because she
sees the world in black and white - there is no
space in her mind for "it's bad but it's good too".
Then come the difficulties related to her cognitive
problems (asks many questions in class, what to
do, what the question means, can't perform in
some subjects, like maths, as well as her peers).
The way she talks. When she is excited or needs
to explain something important to her, her mind
races ahead of her mouth and she has to start the
sentence sometimes three times in a row (never
changing the words she just said). Her views on
things like religion, love, life and death are very
strong. I think I have managed to teach her about
tolerance, however many of her friends cannot
accept and honour this tolerance to her. (Yes, I know,
us, the adults still fight for this comfort as well).
The hobbies and obsessions. Cirwen is "girly", very
gentle person, but not on the Barbie -pink way (as
you'd know from my earlier post - she went through
this stage). She did not enjoy The High School Musical
at all. She is more of anime, Doctor Who, Tim Burton
(Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride), rock
music fan. Her favourite actor is Jack Black... Not really
a typical eleven year old then.
Her raving imagination! She constantly tells stories,
draws, paints and sings, acts out her own stories or
films she watched. Creative - not too happy to follow
fashions, fads and trends.
Now comes her looks. Well, probably a bit of our fault.
As any child she wants to be like mum or dad and we
both are not the designer people - what's black is good,
bit gothy, bit biker friendly, also rock fans...
And so it would be hypocritical if we refused to get
Cirwen the clothes she wants to wear and feels good
in. She is a little emo/rocker.
Yes, she might seem odd comparing to her class mates.
My husband's favourite description of Cirwen is :
"Sometimes it's like having an eccentric aunt for the
daughter." You never know what she will come up
with next, she uses frases like "As a matter of fact...,
Well, actually..., or What a pity, never mind..." She
can be very vulnerable little girl, and next minute she
comes up with a theory you would expect a much older
person to say.
She is different, her mind is different, she looks slightly
different. Is she a freak? I don't think so. She has
taken a decision to manifest her personality. Why not?
Although she wants to fit in, there is a resistance to
conform and follow like a sheep. I have always cherished
the idea of individuality myself and sometimes also paid
the price. As much as I want my daughter to be happy,
fit in and have friends, I don't want it to happen at the
price of hiding her disability, personality and creativity.
It's a catch 22. With increased difficulties in making
friends, communication and perception of people, she is
taught how to interact and respond to others. Am I going
the right way encouraging individuality which in many
ways may alienate her even more?
Freak? Not to me, nor to those who bothered to know
her closer. Don't forget, she has a few very good friends.