Monday, November 18, 2013

The Beauty of those Special Needs

Written by Angela Loeppky

Originally published at
Life in the Special Lane - Slowing it down for my autism daughter 

Admittedly raising a special needs child with autism can be not-so-beautiful.  Yes - there are those great sunlight pictures with wonderful sayings about us “special” parents that were chosen by angels and yada yada … Yes - that is a great thought.  But is this reality?  Not so much.  And don’t say that to a special need parent by the way.

I really do not feel like one of those hand-picked by the angels mom when dealing with day to day functions that take a considerable amount of time longer than it should - every time - with no improvement in sight.  Telling Hannah to “hurry up”, “let’s go faster”, “show me quick” has gotten tired at almost seventeen years of age.  Hannah is very slow. At everything.  Slow as molasses.  If her and Molasses were in a race, Molasses would win.  Hannah’s a@$ would be Molasses’.  You get the picture.  Hannah is also sedentary.  Now likely those with autism kids who bolt sigh a dreamy sigh and wish for sedentary.  I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side.  We wish for energy and movement and life.  I rarely have a servant heart.  I have a martyr’s heart.  I feel sorry for myself way to quickly.  I know she cannot help it …  It does not make it easier though.  Whatever - thoughts for another blog.

Here’s where the beauty comes in.  Yes Hannah is slow, quiet and sedentary and sits well.  She also loves music.  So we use this behaviour (the slow, quiet, sedentary and sit well behaviour) and bring her to concerts.  Not loud concerts - she also cannot handle loud noises well.  During the Christmas season last year we naively brought her to hear Handel’s “Messiah”.  A three hour concert.  Why not?  She loves music!  It was only moments before the orchestra started tuning to the A that I madly second guessed our decision to take her.  What if she farted during the silent part of the Hallelujah chorus?!  What if she obsessed about going home in her not-so-loud voice but loud enough to annoy other paying patrons?!  What if she started a laughing fit?!  My worries were in vain as she ROCKED the concert!  Sitting well, eating her quiet snacks and watching the orchestra and singers through the corner of her eye.  Looking beautiful in her dress while her dad bought her an ice cream treat during intermission.  Catching the eye of others who smiled at her.  They must have been thinking, “Oh she is so cute.  A special needs girl at a concert”.  They would have been right.  She was cute.  No - she was beautiful.  We were proud of her.  This success came at years of practice.

We took her to a fund raising banquet today.  It was a fund raiser for our local agency that supports those with special needs/cognitive disabilities in our community.  Dinner and music.  Many of the clients of the agency love music and love to dance.  The music started as well as the invitation to dance from the lead singer.  It was a waltz.  One man jumped up and started to waltz without a partner.  Before long a woman joined him and danced and twirled.  I knew she was a hearing impaired woman.  It did not matter.  As the music carried on more clients danced and encouraged their caregivers to join them.  Bit by bit the dancers danced on.  Men who were in wheelchairs wheeled their chairs around laughing and had smiles as big as the ocean.  The father to one of our former educational assistant danced with his new granddaughter - she herself has two brothers in the agency and a new baby.  

What beauty.  To dance like nobody is watching.  To dance like nobody is watching when you cannot hear the music.  We think we are the ones better off … I have heard the term  “differently-abled” rather than “disabled” and I like it.  

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