Monday, September 21, 2015

The Superiority of Children with Special Needs.

I grew up in a world where special needs were all around me. My mom was a special education teacher and she brought kids into our home who had special and unique needs. It was perfectly normal to read books with pictures of children in wheelchairs or see hearing aids sitting on the counter at home.

With that in mind I walked into special needs parenting with rose colored glasses. I knew in the back of my head that moms have to stand up for their children and that not everyone is accepting of them, yet somehow it became a distant thought that I would be dealing with the ugliness of humanity as I drank in the beauty of my newest daughters. They are so lovely that it shadows the darkness that is out there.

But those rose colored glasses have been thrown in the mud and smeared so much so that I can no longer see through them. I'm taking up the battle of the special needs parent. Today, my post may seem like I'm starting a battle. So be it.

Adults have recoiled their hands when Ellie makes a loud sound. I have witnessed grown men pull back at the sight of the birthmark on Evie's face. I have stored these small grievances away and tried to simply believe the best of those uneducated, and lacking people. But then this happened and I refuse to sit and be silent.

Ellie sat at a table and felt with her hands for her surroundings. Those surroundings included children. A little girl recoiled with a sneer when Ellie reached out to touch her, to "see" who was next to her. It was that sneer that will remain with me for a long time to come.

It was the unveiling of the ugly underbelly of special needs parenting. I can understand that people need to be educated, that Sunday Schools will need assistance in learning, but parents, this is not okay. Children should not be sneering. Ever. For the LOVE, do better to raise the next generation.

Thank goodness Ellie could not see that sneer, but she sure as heck felt the recoil of that child's arm and spirit. She felt the loss of the possibility of friendship in that moment. And for the next hour she never once reached out to her surroundings again, she knew what was lost.

Surround your children with books of children who are different than your own. Buy toys of children who look different than your own. Do you really want them growing up and believing that they are superior because of how they look? Maybe you do. If that is the case I have nothing further to say to you.

Ellie is not a super hero who has special powers to fill in for her disabilities. Please don't blindfold your child in an attempt to make them feel like her. They won't. It will make them feel silly and giggle at their mistakes. It will cheapen our daily experiences. We don't need your sympathy. Really, truly, keep your sympathy. Run around my girls, go ahead, they will get knocked down. It's fine. That's just life as usual for us.

Here is your lesson for the day.

Superiority can never be gained by extra abilities. It cannot be had by extra training, heightened senses or making up for disabilities. It cannot be gained by having all of your limbs, or all of your senses, the color of your skin or how your family came together. Ellie and Evie are not superior because of super human smell or hearing. They are not superior because they can sense an object without seeing it. They are not superior because they have a harder life. Oh, please. Have you met them?

Here is what makes my daughters superior:

Ellie and Evie are superior because they know that differences are nothing to fear, differences make the world better and not weaker. They are learning that God does not define them by what they can or cannot do. He defines them by Himself. They are His and that is what they grow to learn each and every day. The little girl who wears a sneer has already bought the lie that her appearance makes her valuable. Ellie and Evie know that they have inherent value because of the God who created them with His perfect outstretched hand.

And that makes them superior to the child who sneers. 

1 comment:

  1. I know how you feel. I had a brother who was mildly developmentally delayed (born in 1959). Back then, it was quite common for kids to laugh at him. And since I was younger than him, I was called the "MR's sister."

    Then in 1993, I gave birth to a baby boy. He appeared to be developmenting normally, but as time went by, the dx's came in. First, at 1 yr old, mild CP. Then, at 21 months old, he had his first seizure. By the time he was 3, I could clearly see that he had no receptive language. He entered special education, and I braced myself for the laughing from the other chidlren. But it never came.

    He entered high school. The same high school that my brother and I had gone to. And I just *knew* they would laugh and make fun of him. But it never came. Things had changed so much in 20 yrs.

    We spend a lot of time out in our town, and the larger town 30 miles away, and "Big Town" (with the Targets and Walmarts) 60 miles away. My young adult son has had screaming, shouting, head banging tantrums in those stores. And I thought for sure people would stare. But when I looked around, everyone was going about their business, not even looking!

    But the ones who DO stare? Yep. Children. Not when his behavior is crazy weird, but when we are standing in line at Chik-fil-A telling us what he wanted to eat. Some 9 year old girl will just stand there staring. Looking so...I don't know...stunned? Shocked? Like he's got three heads? It definitely is about how the parents have raised them.