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How to talk to Neil

Monday, August 05, 2013

I met Neil, a young man in his mid twenties, a couple of years ago. We attend the same gym at the same time most days. He has special needs, is physically able but mentally about 7-10 years old. His grandmother drops him off to exercise every morning for two hours. Neil is very careful not to keep her waiting- he is out the door in a flash when he sees her car. Most people at the gym enjoy Neil's company. He insists on doing many things wrong, which makes the trainers cringe. Fearing he might injure himself, but he has done it his way for so many years without problems that nobody corrects him anymore. He always greets everybody, he always stops for a chat. He always tells me that his bones are not made of milk by God, like everybody else, they are made of titanium steel in a lab. He always shows me his muscles. He always asks about my daughter who has special needs too. I love Neil. He adds joy to my time at the gym.
The thing with Neil is, he has an eye for a beautiful girl, as well as impeccable taste. He especially loves talking to the really sexy ones, like the female personal trainers for instance. (Not the older, overweight ones like me. I get about 5 minutes of his time) He would hang around them, chatting non-stop while they are working with their clients.
Sometimes this offends. I suppose if you are paying someone to help you work out, and to focus on you, Neil does not add to the experience. Some people just ignore him. Some are irritated but not willing to say anything. Some people just plain don't know how to handle the situation.
As a mom, of a child with special needs I would like to give the following pointers. For all who wondered.
Recognise a disabled child's worth as a person. Speak to the heart of the person, while looking into their eyes, there might be a lot of 'noise' going around in the brain, but the heart is where the spirit lives, it understands more than we think. Recognise that you are talking to the seven year old who lives in the grown person's body. Make sure your body language agrees with what is coming out of your mouth.
Speak the truth simply and with love.
Say: Neil, we had a wonderful talk, it was great. Now I have to concentrate on my client's workout. I cannot talk to you right now. We will talk later. If you do the circuit, I will keep an eye on you. I can see that you are getting stronger every day.
As easy as that, and hang on to your sense of humour.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post

    You are showing and demonstrating such compassion and I appauld you for that. I understand this hits home for you but you are sharing ways to deal w/ people humanely that are disabled. Thank you for great insight and wonderful advice! I wish all people had this mindset!
    2313 days ago
    Well done, I really liked your blog and felt I knew Neil. I work with children with emotional and mental difficulties and you were so right. You gave special insight from your own persona experience. Thanks :)
    2346 days ago
  • no profile photo REGTE_EK
    You are amazing! I love special needs people, they are so open, honest and sincere. Big hugs for the special needs people in your life. And a bigger one for you!
    2351 days ago
  • AMBER0406
    Wow, you are so right. Your words were so kind and graceful and I could feel your sincerity. This was a great blog. I wish more people were like you. I wish more people took others feelings into consideration. Wonderful mind. Thank you. emoticon
    2354 days ago
    My ex step-son was special needs, autism. He taught me so much. If you really paid attention to him you would see what a wonderful, try so hard kid he was. He never gave up, which was a valuable lesson I learned from him that has helped me with my weight loss journey! Every person is special, you just need to look for their halo!
    2356 days ago
    Oh my....you hit the nail on the head. Well done. Especially the part about making sure your body language agrees with what is coming out of your mouth. I see daily how finely tuned my son is to that.
    2356 days ago
    What a wonderful BLOG! I truly appreciate your description, your loving caring way, to handle this situation. Many years ago, I worked with special needs children, some with varying "abilities" and I totally agree with your comments.

    Whenever I am talking with a child, of any age, I feel the best comments are those with LOVE, UNDERSTANDING, and Explaining to them, "what they CAN understand."
    Not a long story, not a fib, but what they can handle for "their age" be it a number, or their maturity level.

    I can tell, your love is spoken...and that is beautiful.
    2357 days ago
    thank you so much for this blog. I know personally, when I am faced with someone who has special needs, I am really not sure how to talk to them because I have never had anyone like that in my life. Your blog has helped me understand what I need to do to help communicate with special needs people.

    Thanks Maria!!

    2357 days ago
    I love people who treat ALL people as humans and not sub species. I have a friend who's daughter is disabled. Even though she cannot make herself understood to most people (her mom and gran do understand her strange guttural sounds) they always blow wave her hair, she wears jewelry like any other teenage girl and is left out of nothing, despite her wheel chair....its a beautiful thing to witness.
    2357 days ago
  • WJO1212
    You go girl!!! Well said! As some one who has worked with special needs people for over 30 years I could not have said it better my self! I applaud you! emoticon
    2357 days ago
  • DIETER27
    You are so right some people just don't know what to say to a special needs child. A bit of understanding and compassion brings a big smile to their face. You are so right the heart definitely is where the spirit lives.. Have a wonderful day .
    2357 days ago
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