It’s Called Compassion: Special Needs Acceptance

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Recently a Facebook firestorm occurred about a mother and her 2 1/2 year old Autistic son’s haircut.  I am not here to debate what occurred, but do want to weigh in on how many treat special needs children and adults.  As a special education teacher for 17 years and a hearing impaired adult, enough already.  Parents, raise your children to embrace and be kind to others, but mostly accept that looking/sounding/walking/moving (get the idea?) differently is a part of all of us.

A few years ago our young family was at a restaurant, ironically in the same town as the above mentioned spa, when a special needs adult had a tantrum.  Our table was nearest to the gentleman as he had difficulty communicating with his mother and thus threw his salad.  The salad landed on my young son and I.  While  initially frightened for the mother’s safety and ours, I relaxed as I watched mom and the manager  calm the man down.  This is how society needs to act.  The manager did not kick the man out or yell at the mother, instead he asked mom how he could help.  Turns out the special needs man was upset that his pizza was taking longer than expected.  The manager took a similar pizza off the buffet line, boxed it, and handed it to the gentleman.  With a big smile, he managed a thank you and left a happy customer.  I imagine mom left knowing that she can venture out to eat at that restaurant again.

On the drive home that night, we talked with M, then 4, about how each of us is different.  Glasses, hearing aids, languages, mobility, speech, etc.; we are all human and deserve to be treated as such.  Where would I be if 37 years ago people shunned me for my hearing impairment?

Support differences, embrace change, and lend a hand when you see someone struggle.  It’s called compassion.

“The one thing I noticed after moving here was how everyone seemed to just accept Maura for who she was.  As the movers hauled boxes in, Maura danced around excitedly, ran up to one, babbled something incoherent and then took off again.  I said “Yeah, she has special needs…”

He just shrugged and said “Eh, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

It was different.  When I said the same thing in the states, that she had special needs, most of the time I’d get “oh, I’m sorry.”  Here – “nothing wrong with that.”  I mentioned this once while out with some women, and one explained how it’s probably because in Ireland, most people have a family member with special needs.  They don’t just see a weird child – they see their cousin, niece, brother or godchild.  There is an acceptance towards these children like nothing else I’ve experienced.  I hope to spread that experience.  We need more of that.  “    Rearranging Life: Herding Cats by Pheobe Holmes

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2 responses »

  1. There’s a huge difference between the out-of-control child running circles around the table next to yours because the parents are too busy with their iphones and the special needs child that is a bit vocal for whatever reason.
    Are the noises disruptive? Maybe/probably but how’d you like to deal with them 24/7?
    Dig deep and find some compassion.

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