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It Takes A Village

April 28, 2011
By Maria Spencer

I'm sure you have heard the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child."

When you are speaking of a child with a disability, that saying couldn't be truer. I believe it is so important that our special families set an example to all those that encounter our kids to stress the importance of what true equality means.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. None of us are the same, that's the way God designed it. Typically developing or non-typically developing, we all have the same desires of our heart - to be loved and accepted for who we are. Our kids are no different.

They have the same desires other kids do. They just may not act or look like other kids. They want to have friends, they want to play on a playground, and they eventually want jobs and families of their own. Just because their abilities don't fit into the world's view of what "normal" is, they want whatever their normal looks like.

Even though the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1989, sadly, prejudices that surround people with disabilities still exist. We as a society may not hear of these prejudices as much as other things that make people judge, but when someone has to come in contact with a person with different abilities, I feel their true colors come out.

I would like to think that we've come farther than we have as a society, but we have not.

Can you imagine what our world would look like if we were all truly on the same playing field? Can you imagine if all labels that have been put on kids and adults suddenly disappeared?

So many misconceptions continue to exist regarding people with physical disabilities-ones that are visible to the eye as well as those that can't be seen as easily to outsiders.

I don't expect to change society's views regarding people with disabilities in one little article, but I do know that if we all did our part - in every social setting we find ourselves in, we can change our part of the world little by little for our kids sake.

Because I feel we were chosen to parent our kids, I firmly believe that in addition to being our child's caregiver and advocate, it is our responsibility to educate those around us that our kids want to live in a world without judgment and labels.

In our neighborhoods, schools, communities and workplaces, we have opportunities to instill the hope of equality in every conversation and encounter. We parents, along with those professionals that our children see daily - the therapists, physicians, aides, etc. - need to spread the message. Even though they work in a field of disability, it is easy for health care workers to get into auto-pilot work mode and not see each child as an individual. All of those that are part of our child's team need reminders that each child they come in contact with have their own set of unique abilities, desires, and dreams. The people that are in our children's lives on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis have great influence on our kids, and on the community's views of children with disabilities.

Whether they are professionals in the field of servicing kids with disabilities, or they are your next door neighbor, my prayer for you this month is that you will recognize the opportunity when it presents itself to educate and inform those around you in a way that will impact their view of disabilities in general.

People need to be aware of the following truths about our kids:

Even if they can't speak, they want to be heard.

Even if they can't see, they have vision for their future.

Even if they can't walk, they deserve the right to run this race called life.

Spread the joy and simple truths about our kids today. And one by one, we can alter our child's "village" forever.

 
 
 

 

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