My lunch with Steve

Before I get too far into this post, I want to thank the authors of blogs everywhere that have taken time to write how Steve Jobs affected their life and that of their children.

Blogs such as “A ding in the universe” and “This Stuff Doesn’t Change the World” passed along by my friends Emily Tau and Tim Cigelske.

Anyone that has spent more than five minutes with me know that I work daily to find a way for my son to have a successful and self-sufficient life.  My son has ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) something that seems to be diagnosed at an alarming rate.

To me, Steve Jobs was more than the inventor of many technology advances.  He was the role model that I would point out to my son. The person I would see in my minds eye when I heard words like “your child learns differently”, “he’ll never fit in”, “he is socially awkward”.

I live day in and day out with someone that doesn’t fit the ‘normal” mold.  I live with a square peg in a round world.  Thanks to Jobs I knew that it was alright.  In fact, it was down right wonderful that he was different.

A year ago I was in Cupertino, California attending a training session at Apple.  I was eating lunch in the cafeteria when Jobs walked past.  He looked at me and smiled.  No words exchanged, in fact I’m not sure if he even was smiling at me, but I honestly felt a connection.

I had to hold back the desire jump up and thank him for all that he had done for children like my son.  The devices that help them to communicate, to be a part of the world that they feel so awkward in.

Now, I wish I hadn’t been so restrained.  I wish that I had stood up, looked him in the eye and said “thank you, Mr. Jobs”.

But I didn’t.

I often speak to parents of the equalizing factor of the iPod.  How the music or books that can be listened too often help my son avoid awkward conversation with strangers.  He is not seen as a rude, uncaring person – instead just a normal teenager.

My son graduated high school last year, at the time I was worried that he may lose the reading and writing progress he had made over the last four years.  But thanks to the iPhone that isn’t happening.  He thinks he is just texting his friends, but I know better.

I have watched the “Think differently” commercial from 1997 many times over the last day.  I love its message and think the best way to thank Steve for all he has done for individuals with special needs is to remember its message.

The best thing about all of us is that we are different.  Celebrate that difference and respect the fact that we all have something to add to the world.

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