Monday, September 9, 2013

How strangers see special needs kids

Two stories about special needs kids have touched my heart lately. One is awful and broke my heart. The other is beautiful and gave me hope.

The first probably most people heard about, the bitter hateful letter to a Canadian grandmother of an autistic boy. The anonymous letter basically said the child was useless because he wasn't "normal." You can find the text of that letter here.

The second I heard on K-love Christian radio station the other day and it made me tear up as I drove. An anonymous stranger paid for the meal of a North Carolina family whose 8-year-old was having an enormous meltdown in the middle of a restaurant.

The person couldn't possibly have known, but the boy has a severe form of epilepsy and cannot communicate verbally and sometimes the frustration is just too much for him and he melts down. The mother has been told she shouldn't take him in public, but if you have ever had a kid who was "different" or if you know someone who does, then you know sometimes the family desperately wants to do what everyone else does and feel just a little bit normal.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. On this day, for this family, it didn't and a kind, wonderful, beautiful soul paid for their meal and wrote this message:

"God only gives special children to special people." 

It's the most wonderful pay-it-forward I've ever heard.

This is the sad dichotomy of our society. Love and beauty and kindness, next to hate, fear and imagined superiority. One family was beat down, the other built up.

How can they both exist at the same time in our world?

I will keep these stories in mind when I'm out in the world and encounter something unusual. I will remember that I shouldn't assume anything or take anything for granted; that I can't know the challenges of someone else's life; that I should seek to build up, not tear down; that I should practice understanding and graciousness because Lord knows I need it in return. 





16 comments:

  1. This just made me tear up as well. My son is a silent autistic. He doesn't know how to communicate well so when he's misunderstood or asked to repeat himself he shuts down completely and starts to cry. I can totally relate to that mom. That doesn't mean that we don't take him out. We take him out all the time and so far I've not met anyone like that first person. There are all kinds of people in the world but I'm hoping that there are more kind ones than evil.

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    1. It is so hard to see others misunderstand your child when you know exactly what is going on. That this person didn't jump to conclusions was wonderful.

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  2. Lovely that someone helped them out, but I hate that phrase " god gives special kids to special parents". There are so many parents out there struggling and losing their battles right now that the phrase just lends to the guilt and shame we often face as parents of special needs kids.

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    1. I never thought of it that way, Jenn, but I see what you are saying. You don't feel "special" when you are going through it. What got me was that this person didn't judge, didn't assume, didn't get annoyed, they chose to lift spirits and try to help. Seems so rare today.

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  3. I was talking to a wonderful Grandma in church yesterday who loves her granddaughter so much. The granddaughter who is the age of my daughter is special needs and wants a friend so badly, but can't make any. My daughter has tried, but the girl can't interact well, yet she wants a friend. The grandma said, "I wish all the children would understand that God loves my granddaughter as much as He loves them." My heart broke for her.

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    1. Oh that is so sad, to want a friend so much and just not know how. Maybe someday she will find some ways to cope and be able to. There is a severely autistic boy in Brady's school and Brady and I talk about him a lot, why he behaves the way he does, that who he is inside is different than what we see on the outside. Brady really loves him and they play so well together :)

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  4. I loved the North Carolina story. I have average kids and find them hard to handle at times! I give a lot of credit to parents of special needs kids who need special skills (i.e. usually more patience than I could ever have) to parent their kids.

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    1. Parenting is hard all around :) I think your patience develops along with your child. When you begin to understand how they are unique, you begin to change as well.

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  5. It is so sad to see how cruel people can be when they do not understand. I love to read stories about people being kind and supportive.

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    1. I know, I can't believe such awfulness exists :( But thank God it is balanced by kindness.

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  6. It broke my heart when I read the story about the hateful letter and also warmed my heart about the meal paid for. I have found myself in similar situations of not having a successful "outing" with Jasmyn. Its tough in today's society. The looks and judgement that we get is hard to sit back and receive. But there are good people still out there. Im hopeful that awareness to "special needs" issues will one day change the way strangers view these kind of beautiful children.

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    1. It's so hard when you find yourself in that situation. When someone gets it, wow, it's great.

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  7. Arg my post didn't save. Great post. I heard both of those stories and they touched me just like they touched you!

    I love generous people!

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    1. Oh my goodness, yes, generosity and an understanding spirit are just wonderful.

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  8. I read both stores, and totally agree with you. Tears came to my eyes for the blessing that precious receipt was for that family, and for the grandmother who now is afraid to live in her own neighborhood or have her grandson play freely in the yard.
    Thanks for mentioning it.
    I am blessed to teach piano to three amazing kids who all have some form of autism, and it is an amazing, precious experience. They have their moments, but there is so much more locked up inside them than most people ever even think about trying to discover.
    Blessings to you,
    ~Heather <3

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    1. How wonderful that you teach piano. I'll bet it is very soothing for the kids. They are amazing children and it's great when people see that :)

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