If You're Curious About My Special Needs Daughter, Please Ask Questions
My five-year-old has cerebral palsy. She is in a wheelchair and wears orthotics on her feet and splints on her hands. She is also fed enterally through a feeding tube. She is verbal though and she likes to laugh and smile, which are the most important things to me. I know my daughter - I know how much joy and love she has for others. Still, there are those who do not know how to relate to her. There are those who do not understand her disability, nor probably do they want to understand. It is easier for people to just ignore her and those who don't ignore her simply stare. This is the worst for me, the staring.
When Faith is out shopping with me, she likes to say hi to people. Sometimes people say hi back and sometimes they go the extra mile and come over and talk to her. This makes Faith's day! One time we were at a certain store near our home and an elderly gentlemen saw Faith and asked if he could have his granddaughter come and say hi to her. The little girl bounded over to Faith and asked how old she was and where she went to school. It was so sweet and so good the the man to do this. It brought tears to my eyes. I think it is important for people to help others know they do not have to be afraid of someone who is disabled.
Questions from Kindergarteners
Last week I was able to accompany my daughter on a class field trip to the Pumpkin Patch. While the other kids climbed and haystacks and went down the slides I walked Faith around the patch to look at all of the pumpkins. After about an hour, a few girls came up and asked if they could push Faith. I was a little hesitant because they didn't look very strong and some of the terrain was pretty bumpy. They won me over with their eagerness, though. When the other kids saw the little girls pushing Faith they wanted a turn too. They were having so much fun and it was obvious that Faith was enjoying it too. It was wonderful to see the kids engage with Faith.
A little while later it was time for Faith's feeding. The kids were a bit wide-eyed as they saw me connect a feeding tube to the button on the outside of Faith's tummy and set the pump's rate and dosage. They began asking all sorts of questions. "What are you doing? Does that hurt her? What does that stuff taste like? How does that get into her stomach?"
I tried my best to answer their questions in a way they could understand. The more they understood, the more they wanted to know and the questions continued. "How does she get dressed if she can't stand up? How does she sleep? How does she take a bath?" and on and on.
That day was a huge blessing for me, as well as my daughter.
I wish more people could be like these little kindergartners. As I mentioned above, the hardest thing for me to deal with is people who stare at my sweet little girl. Kids can be the worst because they are so blatant about it. I find myself wishing their parents would teach them some manners. But then again, the parents probably do the same. Sometimes I feel like yelling, "Stare Stare like a bear." I do refrain myself whether out of shyness or politeness, I'm not sure. If people are so curious, why don't they just come over and ask?
It's easy for me to say this now. But I do know that before I had my daughter, I probably wouldn't have. But now that I know differently, I know that it is best just to ask.
If you are ever in a situation where you find yourself near a special needs child or even an adult, I encourage you to smile and say hello. It's almost guaranteed you will make their day. And if you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask!