Saturday we went to a Christmas party hosted by Parent to Parent, our local support group for families with children with special needs. We have just recently gotten involved with them and it has been great to connect with other parents in our community.
Saturday I got to see two of the little Superheroes I have photographed in the past, which was fun. The kids got to do crafts, enjoy a fun lunch and even sit on Santa’s lap which was a first for them. As you know, we don’t “do Santa” in our house, but I wasn’t going to stop the kids from sitting on his lap if they wanted.
Tucker, in his typical rascal style, told Santa he wanted, “A Red Rider BB Gun with lever-action, a compass in the stock and a thing that tells time“. To which Santa replied, “I hope you don’t shoot someone’s eye out with it“.
As I sat watching my kids play and have fun, it occurred to me that my children have been given a special gift. Growing up with siblings with special needs gives them an amazing insight and clarifies one simple truth for them: people with special needs are…people. That may sound simplistic to you, but many adults don’t seem to grasp this concept.
The kid in a wheelchair? He’s a little boy who loves super heroes and sports. The kid with cancer? She’s just a little girl who loves ponies and ballet and pepperoni pizza. My kids have been given the opportunity to see and interact with children and adults of all abilities. Having Mordecai and Avi and Apollo and Kalina has given us a passport to events and activities filled with people with a vast variety of needs.
My teens have gone to the Starlight Prom and spent the evening getting to know and dancing with teens with special needs. Parties and events with Parent 2 Parent and Starlight have allowed them to spend time with other families with kids with chronic health issues, Down Syndrome, autism, Asperger’s, kids in walkers and wheelchairs, kids who are non-verbal but still want to play…
Having siblings with special needs has enabled them to meet and interact with kids, teens and adults across the spectrum of needs and abilities. My teens still love going to the SPIN dances, which are monthly dances for teens and adults with special needs. My teens go to these dances and chat with, dance with and make friends with adults with all kinds of abilities. Are they sometimes uncomfortable? Yes. Are there awkward moments? Yes. Do they understand that everyone, everyone is a person? And individual with likes and dislikes, talents and struggles? Yes.
And that, I believe, is a wonderful gift.