Donna Knight, single-mother to a young boy – aged 12 years, has requested people to be more tolerant towards her son’s behavior since it is caused by medical conditions. She opened up about enduring ‘looks’, she and her son recieves because of her son Tyler’s age- inappropriate behavior.
Tyler has autism and has vision in only one eye. The young boy also suffers from ADHD, and a tumor-causing the condition, Neurofibromatosis (NF),
Tyler, due to his neurobehavioral disorder lacks the concept of fear and ends up, at times, asking inappropriate questions, or blurting out whatever is in his mind. Some people fail to understand his limitations.
It is now widely known that autism affects social understanding and dynamics. It is common among autistic children to be unaware of codes of behaviour.
They might come across as rude, or as in Tyler’s case inappropriate. However, as Ms Knight believes, Tyler is much more than a boy with lack of manners.
“He is such a joyful little boy and he does make people smile. . . ” says ms Knight, “. . . he makes people’s day when they meet him. He has so much to deal with and he never complains.
“Sometimes people don’t accept him very well. We’ll get looked at funny when we’re out and about. But my message to people is this – please don’t judge my son. Don’t judge a book by its cover”
She suggests that instead of looking at her son, who might stand out because of his behaviour and appearance, people are welcome to ask about it.
In spite, of the many problems he faces, Tyler manages to attend the Archbishop Sentamu Academy. Attending school and being with other children, makes Tyler feel ‘more normal’, something Ms Knight appreciates greatly.
Even though, he is not as physically able, as the other boys of his age, Tyler is interested in books; history, mythology and tales of vampires are his favourite.
Tyler was diagnosed with NF when he was merely 6 months old, and tumours, a common effect of NF was found when he was 8.
Currently, he is on his second series of Chemotherapy, and now the tumour is appearing to be shrinking.
Unfortunately, because of the chemo, he has suffered from motor neuropathy. Tyler has also gone through a leg-surgery to make both his legs of equal length. Currently, he is using a wheelchair.
Like most children with autism, Tyler does not understand the concept of personal space, or takes things too literally, leading to unfortunate experiences.
As a society, we need to appreciate the hardships young children like Tyler go through everyday, while doing things most people don’t think twice about.
It is necessary to make them feel included, show them understanding and appreciate their bravery. Donna Knight’s request plays the right chords and deliver an important message to people who are fortunate enough to live a normal life.
Children, like Tyler are much more than their manner, habits and disabilities. They need patience and co-operation and as a society we need to help them be the very best of who they can be.