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Love knows no bounds

Isaak, Jasmin and Alison Cox. Photo by Mardi Lumsden

JASMIN COX is a bright 11-year old girl with a mop of ginger hair, a big smile and a hug for anyone who needs it, whether they know it or not.

She also has an intellectual impairment and multiple symptoms of syndromes that mean her diagnosis doesn't fit
neatly into any box.

But I get the feeling Jasmin (Jas) wouldn't want to be labelled or boxed anyway.

Jas' dad, Synod Chaplaincy coordinator Rev John Cox, said ever since she was very young she has known no limits when it came to people.

"It doesn't matter what shape or size they come in, it doesn't matter if they are grumpy or happy … she loves them all
equally and is happy to talk to them," he said.

"Out of that, sometimes people who are not in a good space have their demeanour changed by her approach and her love.

"I was doing a baptism at Emmanuel Enoggera one day and Jas decided she was going to hug everyone in the congregation."

So she went person to person, including the baptism family who were not regular attendees.

"There were people in the baptism family in tears because they had been hugged."

Jas is also a great helper and likes being a friend to anyone who needs it.

"I care for babies too," she added.

And at school she shows friendship by "helping people to do their work".

Mum, Alison Cox, ncyc11 coordinator, said Jas introduces the family to many people.

"Our world is so much bigger because of Jas," she said.

"This morning at the Ophthalmologist she knew everyone's name, introduced herself to them all, introduced me, and she got all these strangers talking who would have otherwise just been sitting there waiting for their appointment.

"She has taught me that your world doesn't have to be small and that it is OK to trust people and to at least give them a chance."

Younger brother Isaak said it is nice to have a sister who is friendly to everyone, "Because she is very helpful".

Although it can't always be roses, he said he has learnt some important things from Jas.

"That I can be kind, friendly and stuff like that," he said.

Ms Cox said Jasmin's openness to people was certainly a gift from God.

"The connection Jasmin has with God is something I yearn for," she said.

"For a child who struggles to speak and communicate with adults she has a connection with God that is beyonddescription
and beyond my understanding.

"But it is tangible, real and profound.

Even people at church who watch her worship often end up in tears because they see that love and connection."

There are frequent stories about how Jasmin's reaction to someone has changed them or the people around them in a
positive way.

On a trip to the neurologist Jas met a profoundly disabled middle-aged woman and her mother.

"I could just sense for the mother how exhausting that would be and how ostracised she might have felt for the last 40 years.

"Jassie just went up and gave her a hug and the smile on this lady's face was phenomenal.

"The mum and I were both in tears.

It was a gorgeous moment of love."

But with some gifts come a burden and for the Cox family that is the fear that someone could take advantage of their child.

"There is a tension in me all the time," said Ms Cox.

"We know it is not appropriate for her to hug and kiss strangers and it is not a safe world.

As a mother I am fiercely protective of her.

"Some people get quite annoyed that this child is invading their space.

I often say to her that not everyone likes to be cuddled or needs a hug today.

"That is not really true.

I think everyone does need a hug but they don't necessarily need it from Jas."

Life with a child with intellectual impairments is sometimes very difficult, but the Coxes see the good times as a gift.

"Probably five to 10 per cent of the time is gut-wrenchingly painful and really hard work.

"The beautiful side is a gift to us to help us keep on going and to realise that it is going to be OK.

"I keep handing Jassie over to God because I can't do anything else."

For Jas her future lies with God.

"I speak with God about it and I speak to Jesus about it.

"The future holds me helping mum do some cooking," Jas said.

Photo : Isaak, Jasmin and Alison Cox. Photo by Mardi Lumsden