I hate to admit it but we live in a country where oddness and differentiality is, well, shut out. You don’t see blind people walking down streets, nor people in wheelchairs and you certainly don’t talk about the things that may be bugging you to complete strangers. Yet lately everywhere I turn people look to their neighbor, a complete stranger, and talk about any single thing that may be on their minds and sometimes it’s quite troubling. This is especially true when it comes to little children. I have a son on the spectrum so I have pretty much what I like to call au-radar. I can totally pick up quirks in kids that are on the spectrum when I see them out and about. You can see the worry on the faces of the parents but also the quickness to which they ‘hide’ or simply shield their kids from unwanted stares. Today for example was the perfect day for such an observation. After I picked up my little man from school I decided to stay in the neighborhood since we would be having our very first Music therapy lesson in an hour. So I took him up to these awesome swings that I’ve put my sights on surrounded my tall trees and just enough pigeons to chase. My little guy had a field day!! He was ecstatic. I said look Panayioti, swings, run! And off he went, you don’t need to twist his arm when it comes to swings, grass, and pebbles. That combination is just win-win!! There were only three other children there being that it was siesta time. A three year old, a 15 month old and an 18 month old. The grandmothers of the first two were your typical Greek grandmothers sitting on a bench and calling out threats every so often when the kids seemed to be doing something which they shouldn’t like licking their fingers and hands. Yup, the three year old little boy was pretending to be a doggy. Odd? Yes. Weird? Yes. Spectrum? Don’t know. The grandmother felt the need to point the obvious out to me and I just shrugged my shoulders and said that maybe he wants to taste the dirt. She wasn’t satisfied with my answer and of course did not comment. The 15 month old little girl reminded me of my soon to be 15 month old cause she was one rebel with a cause. She wanted to climb up the slide backwards and kept getting taken down by her granny. Man, just leave her be. She’s just headstrong. Then came the mommy of the 18 month old. The three of them knew one another being that they live in the same neighborhood. Her complaint was that her son says “tete” all the time. Nothing else. It’s okay the grandmothers said. That was it. It’s okay? When will the topic of developmental stages and milestones stop being such a taboo topic? Why don’t people that are truly worried just take their children to a specialist and have all their questions answered? Because they’re scared. I know I was scared the moment I walked into the office of one of Athens’ most acclaimed developmental specialists. But you know what? Looking back I also felt relief. We knew what it was now and we could work on it. I just hope and pray that all children on the spectrum get the attention and therapy that they need and deserve. I even heard of a case of a little girl recently who is very clearly autistic but whose parents are doing absolutely nothing and that broke my heart. It’s not fair. The end.