Did you hear about the waiter in Texas who put his job on the line when he defended a boy with Down syndrome?
This story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. It reminds us all that taking a stand against prejudice can be difficult in a society that isn’t always accepting and welcoming of people with special needs. After all, a child with special needs deserves respect, kindness, and inclusion, just like any other child.
While this might seem obvious, it is often not the case, and many children with disabilities—and their parents—feel judged and isolated. And not to mention overwhelmed!
Prior to motherhood and blogging, I was a social worker within the field of disability. I learned not only about the struggles facing children with disabilities, but the many roadblocks they come across in society.
From the stares, to the exclusion, to the isolation, to the financial struggles, to the learned helplessness—it can be a lonely existence.
But I’m calling upon all of us to rise above—get out of your bubble—and see the person for who they are, regardless of their diagnosis or label.
Here’s a few tips on how to support families who are living with special needs:
In closing, I’d like to share a very moving piece by fellow blogger, Maria Lin of the Huffington Post. As a proud mom of a child with special needs, Lin reminds us to really see the child and not the disability.
“See my child. Don’t stare. But also don’t look away or avoid,” Lin writes. “My deepest wish is for you to see my child the way I see him. Look into his eyes. Observe him with love. See him. Get to know him. Include him, hang out with him, get your kids to do the same.
"Learn how to treat him with dignity and the profoundest respect, because a wise woman once told me that in some cultures, special needs children are seen as the human form closest to perfection and God, because they are no longer here on earth to learn, but to teach. In these cultures, the elders all bow down when a special needs child enters the room. Oh, but that we might become one of those cultures!”
She adds: “One of the most hurtful things for me as a special needs parent has been seeing others, even my friends, uncomfortable or awkward around my son. Please find a way to start really seeing and loving my child. It might start with spending more time with him.”
If you liked this, you might also like "Don't Fix Me: I'm Different, Not Broken" and "Would You Be Ok With A Family That's Not Normal Like Mine?"