Whether you have a child, or work closely with a child, that has Down Syndrome, Autism, Aspergers, or any other type of disability, you know that your child has amazing potential. We have had the privilege of being able to raise one of these special little guys and have learned so much along the way. Here is just a small list of the things we have learned about kids with special needs:
Kids with special needs just want to feel loved and accepted.
Sometimes we forget that they actually have feelings and want to have friends too. They get sad when they are left out and want to feel that they are accepted for who they are. We have always shown Joshua more love than he could ever need and in return, he is one of the most lovable kids we have. He always wants to hug whoever he is with and loves knowing he has made us happy. We want him to always know that we love him for who he is and we don’t wish him to be someone he isn’t. Some kids are not very affectionate, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need love. Shower them with as much love as they can take anyway and fill up their little love tanks. They need it.
Kids with special needs can teach us more than we can teach them.
I am not saying that you don’t need to send kids to school so they can learn. School has been amazing for him! But, In our experience with Joshua, we have learned more about life than we would have ever known if he was a typical child. We have learned that there are so many amazing, giving, and caring people that have journeyed this road before us and really want to help those who are just starting to try to figure it out. We have gained a new appreciation for how awesome people with special needs really are. I used to see them in the grocery store and would smile as I walked past and think how hard their life must be and completely miss how rewarding their lives really are. Some lessons are harder than others, like patience and perseverance, but when they finally grasp a concept or master a new skill, it makes us want to throw a party to celebrate their success. These kids have a better work ethic than most of us and don’t give up easily when they can’t figure something out.
Kids with special needs are smart.
Most people assume that special needs kids aren’t able to learn what typical kids can, but I have learned that is so wrong. All kids learn at different speeds, so don’t underestimate their ability or put restraints on what you think they are capable of learning…they may surprise you. My family was friends with Dick and Rick Hoyt. Rick has CP, is confined to a wheelchair and can’t speak. He and his dad were famous for running marathons and tri-athalons together…(If you want a tear jerker, Watch this video) When Rick was born, his parents were told to put him in an institution because he wouldn’t amount to much but his parents knew that he was worth the hard work. He eventually received a communication board that could speak for him after he spelled out the words. He was able to converse by spelling everything he needed. He graduated from high school and college! Inside, Rick was very smart, just stuck in a body that wouldn’t allow him to move very much or talk.
Kids with special needs, want you to learn how to communicate with them.
I’m not saying you have to learn a new language, although in our case, we did learn sign language. When many kids with special needs try to communicate they aren’t always able to convey exactly what they mean even if they do speak. This is where patience and a little effort to understand how the child learns and express their needs comes into play. Some children can get “set off” by certain things or sounds and knowing how to prepare for and handle those situations can make life so much easier. I’m not saying you can prevent every issue but taking time to figure out what makes each kid “tick” can be extremely beneficial.
Kids with special needs are worth it!
Having a child with any kind of special need or delay you know that sometimes life is down-right exhausting. (If you missed it check out Saving Houdini) There are so many appointments, specialists, therapies, meetings for school, etc, but all of that hard work and time spent is rewarded when we see our kids accomplish the things we have worked so hard to help them achieve. People with disabilities can lead very productive lives. Many go on to college and even get married. It’s amazing what a little time and love poured into a person can do. Many parents would even tell you that, if they had the choice, they wouldn’t want to change their child.
(Obviously, I am not an expert in the field, nor do I know what every special need kids’ ability is, I’m just speaking from our daily experience with a child with Down Syndrome.)