Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spotlight Talk


Another instagram fav.  Yes Lamp can totally play hungry, hungry hippos and even asks for it by name.  


I was chatting with a Cincy friend the other day and we started talking about the Special Needs Spotlight.  One thing that struck her was when I pose the question, how can people best approach your special needs child?,  parent after parent always says the same thing.  Just ask.  She said she was surprised because she assumed that it would be a sad thing and that people might not want to talk about it.  And while I knew the sadness issue wasn't really a factor, I too was pleased to see that so far every parent has felt the same as me.*  Please talk to us, ask about my son/daughter and above all let your children ask.  When little ones point and ask questions it seems that universally us special needs parents prefer you let your children come and meet our children and ask their questions.  For me I know that I want other kids to see that my daughter is not "weird" and to understand there isn't anything scary about her.  Yes, she's different, but beautiful, funny, charming, sweet and silly as well.  The similarities outweigh the differences.  

I knew that I felt this way, but I wasn't sure if all special needs parents felt this way.  And perhaps not all do, but according to the SNS so far... yeah pretty much all of them do.  You might think having a kid with special needs makes me a pro, but I'll tell you this series has been just as enlightening to me as it's been to anyone else.  So yesterday when taking Lamp to her weekly occupational therapy appointment I saw a new-to-me family with a daughter that clearly had special needs of some sort.  So armed with all the knowledge from this one question, I started a dialogue.  And then asked them about their daughter.  It was the dad and I talking while mom was in the office taking care of paper work and it was just a great conversation.  He clearly loves his his daughter (well, both of them) and just like me, loves talking about her--her condition, the medical issues, as well as her personality, likes/dislikes, etc.  When our therapist brought Lamp out at the end of her appointment they were just as sweet to her and there was an instant bond and mutual respect there.  I'll admit, that definitely does have something to do with being in the club, but even if you don't have kids with special needs, I know reaching out and talking to families and kids with special needs will do wonders to build bridges and tear down walls.

Finally, I told my friend that if there is one message I hope to get across in this series it's that the love we have for our children with special needs, is the same love you have for your children and the same love we have for our other children without special needs.  It's the same love that brings us joy and happiness in our families and it's the love that makes all the difference.  


I'm curious, have any of you had an opportunity to apply something from the Special Needs Spotlight in real life?  Would you be willing to tell me about it, even send an email?  Also, are there any questions you're dying to ask our special needs moms?  One mom in particular or a general question addressed to any/all special needs moms?   Thanks, you guys are the best. 


*I just want to say that I know we don't all feel exactly the same.  And in fact there are days when I might even feel down/sad about my daughter particularly if we've had a doctors appointment and received some bad news or are going through a rough patch in general.  I still stand behind the "just ask" sentiment, but there are always exceptions.  

10 comments:

  1. I started reading your blog b/c of the first spotlight you did for Katie and her two special kids. I am connected to her in a werid friend of a friends cousin sort of way. I think the spotlights are awesome and very eye opening. I do in-home parties and after the party was done and the hostess husband came home with their 2 kids their son was on the floor scooting around playing and laughing. I noticed that he wasn't running around like his big sister. When she walked me out she mentioned that her son was on the floor b/c his legs are paralized. I said "I noticed that he was on the floor, but he seems like an awesome and happy kid!". She smiled. It felt good on my part that I, in some way, knew what to say and that it wasn't uncomfortable as it might have been before reading your blog. Keep the spotlights coming, learning about awesome families and kids has been great.

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  2. vlaerie10:01 AM

    I really enjoy reading your spotlights. While I do not have a child with special needs, my 14 year old daughter volunteers 4 days a week at a therapeutic riding program working with autistic and other developmentally challenged (I hope this is the correct phrase) children. She is always saying how truly blessed she is to be changed by these children. She truly believes that they teach her to be a better human being than she can ever teach them.

    My thoughts and prayers for your family and all those with special needs children. You are heros.

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  3. Goodmom4210:10 AM

    Since I adore children, I have enjoyed reading all about your two sweeties & all of the kidlets on the spotlight. I have never shied away from talking to any child, but your blog stuck in my mind recently when I was traveling through a busy airport recently. There was a mother with a child (probably about 13 years old) in a wheelchair making their way through a busy stream of people. I made a point of smiling at him and saying "Hi there!" when I passed him the first time. We happened to cross paths again a few minutes later, whereas he gave me a slight grin, and slowly extended his hand. I gently grasped it, and greeted him again with a big smile. His Mom seemed surprised but obviously pleased that someone was acknowledging her son, rather than trying to avert their eyes. If we hadn't been in such a mass crowd of hurried people, I would definitely have asked about her boy. Your blog has made me even more aware of how important it is to be sensitive to every child's need to be validated, special needs or not. Thank you so much.

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  4. Anonymous11:40 AM

    Hi there
    definitely had the "chance" to use what I have learnt :)
    I have always tried to smile and acknowledge a child with special needs, but the other day I spent the time talking with a parent and the child. She was a lovely young teen with CP in a wheel chair. She had possibly the coolest purple boots on I have ever seen. I just thought about what I would say to her if she wasn't in a wheelchair etc. and did it. Smiled, made eye contact and told her I thought she had the coolest purple boots ever! She was so excited and happy and tried to show them to me better. While she could not speak - we definitely communicated. The dad seemed quite pleased someone took the time to talk with his daughter. Thanks Miggy!
    Linda

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  5. A week ago on my flight home I sat next to a young man with limb differences on both arms. We started up a conversation (I lied and said I have a friend whose daughter has limb differences, rather than I follow a blog...), and talked the entire 45 min flight. He told me that he had prostheses on his legs, and that it was linked to a drug his mother took during pregnancy, He added that he had a settlement and didn't have to work. He showed me photos of his 3 small children that he was going to visit. Thanks to your wonderful SNS and your own blogging adventures, I am muchh more at ease approaching people with differences and challenges. Don't we all have them?? ;)

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  6. Wow! This is awesome. Thank you guys for sharing.

    Seriously--each of these experiences makes me smile and a little teary eyed.

    Erin--That was a sweet little experience. Glad you noticed how happy he is.

    Vlaerie--I love your daughter. Honestly...people who seek out others with special needs bring me to my knees in admiration. What a gem she is.

    Goodmom42--What a tender, beautiful story. Imagining this scene in my head ...it's just beautiful. And brings a huge smile to my face.

    Linda--same with you...I love that you weren't afraid to talk to someone who couldn't "talk" back...she certainly still communicated didn't she?

    Nana Layne--I love this and I LOVE that we were your "friends." I hope my daughter is surrounded with people who talk to her, acknowledge her, etc on planes, trains or automobiles.

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  7. you read my mind! i was literally JUST thinking last night that i would comment on your next Special Needs Spotlight to tell you that the thing I really love about them is how wonderfully they illustrate these children with special needs as simply children, loved and adored and deserving of the same kindness afforded to all children. and that kindness includes eye contact and respect and direct conversation. it was a great idea you had to do this feature on your blog.

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  8. I have a question: What is the best way we can serve families with special needs children? Are there some specific ways you can think of? things for hospital visits? continued fundraisers? Childcare for the other children for doctor appointments? How can we show love and support rather than, "if there is anything we can do to help"?

    Thanks, this series has definitely given me more confidence to approach families with needs.

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  9. Your SNS gave me the courage to speak to a mom, I didnt know, last week (normally would've been too nervous). I could just see how special and beautiful her daughter was, and because of you SNS I felt like it was ok for me to share that with her.

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  10. I started reading your blog through one of your special needs spotlights. I am a child development specialist in early intervention. I usually feel like I know a good amount about special needs and what life is like, but the spotlights have been really informative for me. While I feel like I have great relationships with most of the families I work with, I love how open and real parents are. It gives me a much more personal perspective, and I think it helps me do my job so much better.

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