Upside down stories

It’s been a rough few months in the house of Robson. In the forefront has been trying to sort out support for our daughter who is both gifted and has additional needs, which feels like it’s been a long, hard slog. Getting diagnoses has been a bizarre mix of relief and sadness. Dyslexia, autism, sensory processing disorder, gifted – these words have played a larger part in our conversations recently than we ever imagined they would, and have at times seemed overwhelming.

But the more reading and talking and midnight research we’ve done, the more we’ve heard the voices of people saying, what if these things we fear and labels we’ve been given aren’t actually bad? What if they just make her different? What if the negatives can be turned into positives?



With Amelia, this is glaringly obvious. Not being able to write legibly belies her ability to plan pictorially or using mind maps. Her inability to convey her thoughts on paper pales into insignificance when listening to her talk about her ideas (and talk, and talk, and talk!). Her difficulties with reading are balanced by her insane ability to see the bigger picture and spot things the rest of us don’t.


Sometimes I can see my own life in the same way, and turn some of the hardest things I deal with into blessings – my issues with chronic depression give me an ability to see beauty in the world, and struggling with bipolar means I have far more ability to understand emotional depth than a lot of people.

The lingering question is this: what if we sometimes need to take aspects of our stories and turn them…upside down?

That’s what Jesus did – it’s what parables were all about. Jesus took everything his peers understood and turned it on its head – sometimes to the extent of true discomfort. The most physical of his parables – the time he washed his disciples feet (which I think we often forget would have been a really rather disgusting job) – showed the king of kings on his knees, serving his friends despite knowing how they were going to treat him over the following few days.

It seems illogical, but it’s these upside down stories that capture our imagination the most. It’s a part of our character that we long to be surprised by the stories we see or hear. Maybe, in our writing, we can start to harness this topsy turviness as exampled by Jesus. The last shall be first, the poor shall be blessed, those different from us will open our eyes to our bias, and we will learn about the world from those who society says are ‘disabled’.

As a family, the more we talk and research and come to terms with things, the more we grasp the main problem we have: the world just isn’t built for people like my Amelia. But that doesn’t mean she can’t play an important part in it. Maybe her role will be to change the world, to turn it on it’s head and make people see things differently. I can only hope that my stories do the same…


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