Since my strabismus has been intermittent most of my life, I didn’t see it when I focused on myself in the mirror. I could consciously bring it about. I knew what it looked like. But the mirror didn’t give me everyday reminders of my abnormality.
Many are not so fortunate. Their eye turn is beyond their control. They are painfully aware that they look different. As if the mirror weren’t reinforcement enough, they are often teased unmercifully at school.
How do we help them? I’ve talked with some of them, and even they don’t have answers of what they really need. One said she felt very uncomfortable if someone even mentioned the turned eye. Another said he felt better to just get it out in the open and go on.
I did some research and came up with this interesting item from the University of Colorado:
Social perception: Perceiving and judging other people
Unfortunately I can’t focus well enough for long enough to read it as thoroughly as I would like. But I did pick up this quote from above article:
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The process by which one?s expectations about a person eventually lead that person to behave in ways that confirm those expectations.
People really do tend to see themselves as, and become, what others judge them to be. So how do we break this cycle?
If parents, educators, therapists, counselors, and yes, even other children and adults can be helped to see a person’s differences as part of the wonderful person inside, that can go a long way. As I was trying to figure out how to say this, and more importantly how to do it, I came across an item from a father who instinctively was able to do this very thing for his little daughter. I linked it to our new “Tropes” section, but I want to share it with you here also:
The second paragraph of this father’s story says what I couldn’t quite put into words:
When you have a child with a difference, that difference becomes part of your love for her.
This father wrote to tell me that he has written a followup item also, and I’ll share that link too:
But what about those who haven’t had this? We have to do for ourselves what this father did for his daughter. We must see our defects as part of what makes us who we are. Every defect or disability can be turned into a positive in our lives if we allow it.
For children this is especially hard. But if you are old enough to read this item, you are old enough to start thinking about the positive side of your “difference.” One of the things I’ve done with my “difference” is to create a website to try to help others with this same difference. You may not be able to do that. But let your difference, whatever it is, help you deveolp a more compassionate attitude toward others who also have differences. Reach out to them, be a friend.
That’s not easy. Many have been so rejected through the years that they have a hard time with any type of social relationship. It may be uncomfortable or scary for us as well. I wrote an item several years ago that expresses more of what I mean by that:
A Thing of Beauty
I want to hear your thoughts also. How can we help?
Let’s determine that we are going to use our own differences to make a difference for someone else!