Coming off of my last post, I think of us parents with special needs as a giant, worldwide community. Like so many movements that have come before us, in order for us to make real change, we have to do some hard things. We, as a community need to band together, decide how we want to be treated and raise our expectations of society. We will only be treated as well as we demand to be treated.
Remember, the inclusion and acceptance of people with different races only came about because people banned together and decided that the exclusion of people because of race was unacceptable. Today, we are in the throes of conversation about accepting people who are born one sex and identify as another. There are heated debates all over the country about how to include everyone while still protecting each person’s rights. These discussions and difficult situations have only come about because people banded together and made their desires an issue.
Parents of kids with special needs need to come together, as one, not as the autism community, not as the down syndrome community, not as the rare chromosomal disorder community, but as the special needs community.
We are a tribe. A valiant tribe that overcomes insane obstacles and challenges like a champion. We go to battle every day for the ones we love and every single day we come out a little stronger and get ready to do it again.
We cannot cease in our drive for increased inclusion and acceptance. We cannot give up the battle to create a world that is better for our children than the one we were born into. So, today, I am putting out a challenge to you.
My challenge is this…choose one of these things. Just one.
Pick one thing, go out and do it.
- Take your child someplace you’ve always been apprehensive about taking him or her. That could be a family members home, a store, a church, a park, wherever…it doesn’t matter. If you’ve been apprehensive about taking your child there then that’s the exact place you and your child need to visit.
- Join a group or local committee NOT comprised of parents of children with special needs. Widening your circle also means allowing others to learn about your life.
- Go for a walk in your community.
- Make a play date or coffee date with a parent or friend who does NOT have a child with a disability. Let people see into your life.
- Post something transparent on social media. We tend to hide behind the happy moments. People need to understand the challenges AND the joys of parenting a child with disabilities.
Oh, and when people stare, because, let’s face it, they often do, instead of staring back or shooting daggers at them with your eyes, just reach down and love your child. That simple act teaches the wary that your child is valuable, loved and deserves their respect also.
Every day, we have the ability to soften the world just a bit. Look how far we’ve come in 40 years. It took parents banning together and refusing to accept exclusion. We must keep going. It’s not for us, it’s for our children, grandchildren and future generations.
Go change the world.
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Disclaimer: There are exceptions to every rule. Children and adults with disabilities are people with their own individual needs and desires. The ideas and advice given in this blog are for your consideration only and should not be taken as legal, medical or educational advice, as every single situation is different.