I would like to dedicate this blog entry to my stepson Geoffrey, a special young man in the lives of Maite (my wife) and me.
So who’s Geoffrey?
He is a complicated youth with numerous disabilities including autism and cerebral palsy. He’s deaf and mute; he also has what is known as a short gut. Geoffrey is now 18; in his life he has three major passions.
Food — The stuff of life
His first passion is food. You can’t imagine the joy he feels when he eats. His big smile mirrors his happiness from the different tastes in his mouth. And he’s an eating machine! Because of his short gut he only retains a small amount of nutrients. So he knows that to survive, he must eat huge portions of food. When we’re finished eating, Geoffrey is still at it for another twenty minutes!
A new way to watch videos
Passion number two is watching videos. Again, his joy of watching movies is unusual; Geoffrey watches them on fast forward. When he sees a clip, say of about 15 seconds that he likes, he’ll watch it over and over again, to the point that the video player breaks. We’re now well known in the electronics store where we purchase our replacement players. Although Geoffrey can’t read or write, when he has a favourite film, say 101 Dalmatians, he can point it out from hundreds of others just by the shape of the words on the spine.
Life’s not a puzzle to Geoffrey
Finally, Geoffrey is an expert with puzzles. He puts together puzzles with many hundreds of pieces in a flash. Sometimes, a piece from one puzzle gets mixed up with pieces from another one. In a matter of seconds he can scan through hundreds of pieces and retrieve the missing one from another game.
The magic finger
Geoffrey has another special ability; what we call a magic finger. He merely points at what he wants and six people run around and get it for him. At the dinner table he watches me like a hawk. When leftovers are about to be consumed, he points feverishly at his mother to make sure that she doesn’t mess with his extra portion. For someone with his particular challenges, Geoffrey amazes us with how bright he really is.
Geoffrey: an inspiration in life—and business
When I reflect on Geoffrey, I’m amazed how much he has taught me. With his special needs, I now know a mother’s special devotion to her child. And the strength of family, given that Geoffrey will always be in our care. Finally, the power of patience, particularly given Geoffrey’s particular challenges.
The personal is the professional
To the outside, people looking at Geoffrey may just see problems. To us, though, he is our beloved child. Where others might just see obligations, we see assets in terms of building strengths and resources to adjust to new realities. Thinking about Geoffrey, I came up with an idea: turning obligations into assets. It’s the tagline for my new company, Sutton Compliance Communications. If you’d like to know more, please visit us: http://www.suttoncompliance.com