Some of my family work with special needs children. I admire their abilities in many ways because special needs kids are often some of the brightest students that exist. The biggest issue they face is they’re different. They learn differently than the average jo shmo student. And as they grow into adulthood, many places and people often discriminate against them because they don’t fit the norm. I think that’s one of the reasons why I admire autistic children who grow into adulthood and can do more things because of their impairment than those who usually act normal.
I know I’ve mentioned my friend Ken on more than one occasion, and he also contributes to this blogging site, but one of the things about him that so unique is that Ken has half a brain. You would never know it just looking at him because he looks as normal as you and me. But Ken also had a stroke in his mother’s wound, which left him partially paralyzed on the left side of his body. Many of his family members did not understand why Ken did not pursue his education further. One of the reasons he did not was that it takes him twice as long to read something as it does other people. Sometimes a paragraph can take several minutes for him to read. His brain doesn’t process and compute as others do, which frustrates him because he knows he’s capable of learning, but other people judge him based on his disability. That information has disadvantages for him.
Ken’s not alone because many people share some of his same struggles. When my Uncle was alive, he talked about some of the kids in the program he taught. He often said that the kids were remarkable not just because of their special needs but also their talents. I have a cousin who works with those students, and she loves her work. She may not always love the politics that occur within the school systems, but she loves seeing a child reach their potential, especially when the odds find themselves stacked against them.
Recently, I listened to a conversation with a woman who said that she was hesitant to have children because several children in her family were diagnosed with special needs. She spoke with a friend and asked one of the questions that I think many parents ask when they deal with a special needs child. That question was, “who will care for the child once they become an adult when that person is no longer able to?” It’s a fair question because none of us want to think about it when we are gone. We don’t want to think about who will take care of the child or children. Still, we need to understand that many resources will help. If you’re in that situation and can help provide services for a child such as companion services or home and community services and behavior support, you might help direct someone in need to those programs.
If a child turns 18, they’re considered a legal adult, and the assumption is that they may be able to make their own decisions and manage different components of their life. But suppose the child is unable to do that. In that case, it’s wise to find an appointment of a legal guardian or maintain a medical power of attorney so that that child can be accessing aided with accessibility with things like financial management and medical care decisions.
Speaking of finances, special needs folks usually have more expenses than someone considered normal. If that child, as they grow, can live independently, they’ll need to find a job to support themselves. Fortunately, many programs help place them in positions that they can. However, there is still a lot of discrimination in some companies; even though they state they do not discriminate, find ways to do the bias. Unfortunately, life isn’t always fair. This problem is a serious issue that many people still deal with in their lives. If that person is struggling in the same capacity to find work, they must get the proper assistance from different agencies.
Housing is another concern that parents of special needs children often think about as that child ages. Medical decisions, therapies, relationships, and transportation are all issues that parents of special needs children have in the back of their minds. Some will be very independent as those kids become adults, while others may need assisted living arrangements. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan for someone with special needs—everything is based on a case-by-case scenario. And a lot may depend on their ability to interact within the community. There will always be questions that parents of children who transition into adulthood will have throughout their lives. The main thing is to stay on top of information as it becomes available.
Don’t assume that someone can’t do something because of a disability. That’s one of the most critical disservices that you can do to another person who may struggle to do things the way you do them. Instead, allow inspiration to take place because you never know you might have somebody who changes your life and perception along the way based on their ability to adapt. If you know folks like this or deal with this in your personal lives, I hope you remember that not only are you not alone, but there are support systems in place to help you in different aspects of your life. I found many helpful hands and tips on the home community-based services providers. There is a ton of information online about programs that can help with special needs folks. Instead of looking at people who don’t have special needs as a problem in society, we need to look at them as part of the solution.
A young woman was part of my childhood who still inspires me to this day. She is a twin, and she is one of the rare cases where immunizations caused significant health issues. Her twin sister had her immunization shots with no problems. Still, she has suffered for years with challenging seizures and other learning disabilities that would make most people want to run in the opposite direction. Her entire family has become inspired to help her and educate others along the way as to the obstacles that she faces daily. They remind everyone that society should not discount special needs people because of their disabilities and lack of community activities. But they remind us of how powerful the element of love is and that it is worth an education all on its own. The love that I have watched this family provide for not only their sister but for others who have learned by her is Infinite. But the lesson that she has given me and many others along the way is never to take a day for granted. And it’s never to assume that medicine will always be the fix for everything. She was never expected to live until forty but she’s beaten the odds and is still living her best life.
Thankfully she has taught me the best lesson of all. That lesson is that love has no boundaries. It’s not a measurable component because love itself can shape the hearts and minds of everyone around it. So I hope today, if you know of someone with special needs and disabilities that you and disabilities that you look at them with a set of new eyes. You might see things a little differently. Have a great day, everyone.