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What I Learned From My Son with Special Needs: The Power of Emotional Intelligence

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

The last four days were an awe inspiring experience for me as my son, Nick, stayed glued to a monitor in the hospital. He had to undergo a series of tests which would have made anyone grumpy and agitated, but not him. Each day I would watch him "schmooze" with the nurses, lab techs, meal service, housekeeping and residents. Nick would engage them in deep philosophical discussions, or establish rapport by talking about wrestling, Indian food, or anything else he found fascinating about each one of them. Even though he was purposely sleep deprived every night (existing only on 3-4 hours of sleep), he easily recognized everyone's special sparkle, and let them know it.

Initially when he first met his new Doctor, he was taken back by the brief 10 minute interview. He didn't understand that this is the norm, the way healthcare is today. He took it personally even though I told him to let it go. When the Doctor came to check on him in the hospital, my son shocked me. He calmly and assertively asked direct questions that I would have never thought to ask.... And there were a lot of them, and all pertinent. When they were finished he gave the Doctor a big smile and humbly said, "For what it's worth, thank you for taking the time to answer all my questions, for deeply listening, and being mentally present. I appreciate you." The doctor's face was priceless, for it was a look of flabbergast. The Doctor looked at me and then at Nick and said, "you are very intelligent, very smart. Thank you." I suppose I was just as surprised because I made everyone laugh when I asked, "What starship came and kidnapped my son? Who are you???" When the Doctor and residents left, I thought about what happened; realizing how exceptional his emotional intelligence is. He could have easily snapped back with a sarcastic attitude, but he instinctively knew to get his point across with kindness and genuine sincerity.

As I write, my son, Nick, is still in the hospital, and doing remarkably well. His positive thoughts are keeping his physiology in check. While his generous spirit is lighting up all the hearts who are lucky enough to be in his presence.

What I learned: IQ doesn't matter as much as EQ. For I witnessed "# unsung heroes" (a term he likes to call the tired courageous healthcare workers) become lighter and happier just by being acknowledged and appreciated. I will take this valuable lesson I learned from my son and be more observant, and compassionate. A "random act of kindness" is good, but continual acts of kindness is better. Thank you, my son....

Debra Taubenslag, Author

No Stone Unturned: How My Special Needs Child and I Transformed Against All Odds


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