Everyone Has A Dragon!
Everyone has challenges and hurdles in life. Whether it is asthma, allergies, or a fear they will not be accepted by their peers. Everyone has a dragon. As a pediatric occupational therapist for the past 17 years I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of dragon slayers…children who demonstrate perseverance and will to conquer their dragons that taunt, misguide, and barricade them from being the best person they can be. These dragon slayers have taught me a life lesson that I am so grateful for… with hard work and determination, even life’s biggest dragons can be defeated.
It was this life lesson that inspired me to create the characters, Joshua and his Dragon, in my picture book, Joshua’s Dragon. Joshua, a courageous boy who has autism, teaches all children that if he can take on the dragon of his disability, then they too have the strength within to conquer theirs.
Becoming a Dragon Slayer is no small feat. Dragon Slayers are brave and honest, but most importantly, these children follow four basic rules…come up with a plan of attack, always try 100%, never give up, and never make fun of someone for having a dragon.
First, a true dragon slayer must come up with a plan of attack. A child who has a special need will likely have a team of professionals to help create their plan of attack. The team will determine the problem, set a goal, come up with strategies, and then… GAME ON DRAGON. Like many children who have autism, Joshua doesn’t like loud noises. But he is determined to go on a field trip to the zoo…he wants to see a lion. When confronted by a dragon who likes to make loud noises, Joshua strategically comes up with ways to stop him. He proves himself as brave as the lion he so desires.
Rule number two…always try 100%. Every day I watch children face physical and cognitive dragons that could wear down an able bodied adult, yet they give it their all without a moment’s thought. This life lesson applies to all of us, especially children. If Grant lets his frustration with reading wear him down, and if he doesn’t follow through with the strategies set in place (study every night, read to parents, etc.) then his dragon thinks he is smarter than him. Grant will never meet his goal…to learn how to read proficiently. Joshua’s desire to see a lion was so strong that he went to the zoo despite knowing how loud it would become. Once confronted with loud noises, Joshua gave 100% effort, and tried his hardest to halt the dragon in his tracks. Children who have autism must find a way to keep their dragons under control or they wouldn’t have a fulfilled life. Giving 100% effort every day is not an option.
Rule number three to becoming a true dragon slayer…never give up! Children who have a special need never surrender to their dragons. If Matthew & Jeffrey, twin six year-old boys with cerebral palsy, want to learn how to walk, they can’t give up trying, even when it becomes discouraging, painful, and
challenging. They will never be able to keep up with their peers. Sure trying out for a travel basketball team and not making the cut is frustrating and discouraging to nine year-old Griffin. But if he gives up trying, gives up setting goals on how to become a stronger player, then he risks never knowing what his potential is. He will never know if he could have made the team the following season.
The last rule to becoming a true dragon slayer… never make fun of someone for having a dragon! No one is perfect, even when it appears that way from the outside. Everyone has dragons, most likely more than one. This is what makes us similar to each other. This is what makes us similar to Joshua. By making fun of someone for having a dragon, we are saying we are better than them. If everyone has a dragon…than everyone is EQUAL.
Becoming a true dragon slayer takes hard work, determination, will, and perseverance. To all my children who have special needs, and to Joshua, thank you for showing me the way. Now I get to share your rules with all children. Dragon slayers…stand tall and brave!
Background information: My name is Stacey Glorioso and I am a pediatric occupational therapist and author of the picture book, Joshua’s Dragon. We began our tour in mid-September and as of November 10th, we have been able to inspire over 10,000 children educating them on autism and other disabilities in a pep rally setting. This is truly the first of its kind. Using true stories of brave children who rose against all odds to defeat their dragon despite the immensity of obstacles along the way, we inspire all children to reflect upon their own personal dragons to come up with a plan of attack.
Want to find out more about the book and the activities, please visit http://www.joshuasdragon.com