For this week's post I wanted to talk about how to approach another individual who's part of the differently "abled" community. Since I've grown up with Michael my whole life, it's always been natural for me to approach another individual without hesitation. However, I've noticed that even some of my closest friends struggle with approaching Michael, so thought I'd write about ways to make it easier :)
Honestly, people like Michael love to be acknowledged! Even though Michael's nonverbal, he loves it when others approach him and say hello. He might not speak back, but he will wave back and acknowledge you. I know some people get really intimidated and aren't sure what to do, but Michael definitely notices if you ignore him. Others like Michael can tell if you're uneasy and uncomfortable, and there's honestly no reason to be! Even if you don't get a response that you accept, it's always really touching to see any form of effort put in.
Here's what I'll usually say to someone else:
"Hey I'm Julia! whats your name?" -usually with a handshake or high-five
And It's just as easy as that! Usually if they're with their parent or caretaker, I'll let them know that I've got a twin brother with Down Syndrome, and they're immediately reassured. Honestly, I can't put to words how meaningful it is to me when people come up to me and acknowledge Michael and talk to him... it really does make a difference :)