Teach People About Your Child With Special Needs
Nate and I stood in the crowded line of my local superstore, waiting patiently to pay for the overflowing shopping cart. As we waited, I thumbed through a cooking magazine looking at recipes, as Nate leaned against the shopping cart, doing his usual, arm waving and flapping, while his voice went from laughing, to a high pitched scream, and then to a low giggle.
As we waited, a mother with a little girl sitting in the front of the shopping cart, pulled in back of us. I immediately noticed the little girl, staring at Nate. I could tell by her face that she was confused, as she wondered why this big boy was flapping and waving his arms and making loud noises in the store. I smiled at the mother and then at the little girl, who removed her eyes from Nate. She then looked at me and asked….
“What is wrong with him?”
The girl’s mother looked at me, with a look of shock and embarrassment on her face, at her daughter’s question. I immediately told her that it was fine and that the question was all right. I then asked the mother, if she wouldn’t mind if I answered her daughter. She shook her head yes, as I proceeded to explain in 5 year-old/kid-friendly manner about my child.
“This is Nate and I am his Mommy.” I began. “Nate does not see or hear. He is deaf and blind.” I explained.
The little girl then looked back at Nate, examining him with her brown eyes, to help her to process what I just said.
“Sometimes Nate likes to flap his arms and his hands and make loud noises.” I continued. “But, there is nothing wrong with my son. This is who he is and I love him.” I concluded.
The little girl seemed to accept my answer as a smile graced her face and her mother thanked me. Soon the line began moving, and I paid for my items, and walked out of the checkout line, not before the mother and daughter waved goodbye to us.
Over the years I have had this conversation about Nate, as people have looked at my son, watched him move his arms and body, while loud sounds emitted from his mouth. Of course I have tweaked my lessons to make them age-appropriate and friendly, depending on the person whom I was addressing.
And during this time, It has become more transparent and comfortable with having that talk. I have learned that it is my purpose to educate people. This world needs to know about children and adults with special needs. Yes, textbooks and the Internet are great resources to learn, but no book or website could have told that little girl that there was nothing wrong with my child and that I loved him.
As parents of children with special needs we need to be the one to teach others, because nothing compares to the sharing of our mind, heart, and experience of raising our child.
Charlene is a teacher and writer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is in the process of completing her book Faith to Raise Nate — Trusting God to Raise her Child With Special Needs. Follow her on Twitter at @CharleneB .
Originally published at FaithtoraiseNate.com.
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