Memo's from Sophia Nicholls, Executive Secretary of ASNA.


New Normal?

Updated: May 10, 2020

What will that look like? Having seen and experienced so many opportunities during this lockdown period, I am beginning to believe that this new way of connecting with each other is a blessing! I have often wondered what it would look like if everyone had the chance to be part of a community in spite of their differences and abilities.

When my son was younger, as new parents, it was difficult being overlooked for children's parties or community engagements. Matthew has autism, severe learning disabilities and is blind. This was all very new to us as a young couple learning to teach and nurture him as well as having to deal with the many stares and words of pity from those around us.

Matthew was our son, we loved him and still love him to bits. At the time of his birth, we could not understand why he had so many challenges. As a baby, toddler, junior, teenager and now as a young man he still experiences challenges yet Matthew has learnt 'his new normal'. I am constantly amazed and proud of how he navigates the world. His method of greeting and recognising people is marvellous.

On meeting Matthew, once you call his name and say hello, he will put out his hand to greet you. He will take your hand and bring it to his nose to smell you, he will then bring your hands together for you to clap. While clapping he will gently place his finger tips on your forearm to feel the vibrations in your arms. Finally, he will lay his finger tips on your wrist and if you let him, he will ruffle your hair and I guarantee, he will remember you the next time you greet him. This is Matthew's normal! He is wonderful.

Every time I think about Matthew's way of navigating the world, I marvel and repeat the verse in the bible that says 'we are fearfully and wonderfully made' (Psalms 138:14). Indeed we are. We are able to adapt to any situation we find ourselves and by doing so we learn new things about others and ourselves.

In this lockdown time, is there a new normal you have found out about yourself? How have you adapted to this change in circumstance? It was not something you expected or asked for just like I was surprised, devastated and questioning about Matthew our first son' disability. At the time, I could not see why. Now it all makes perfect sense!

In time it will make perfect sense. We will look back and say, Oh...I see, I understand why... It is hard now, there are challenges now and we are learning to adapt to our new normal. Seize every opportunity to learn something new in your lockdown. Do something kind for someone. Ring someone up who you have not spoken to for years and years. Make a new friend every week. Live in the present because you have no control over the future and the past.

Live in your new normal and help someone along the way see their new normal as an opportunity. It's going to be a new normal and we can make it a good one.

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