A Mom’s Awesome Response to a Stranger’s Ridiculous Accusation

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Sometimes, a seemingly small Facebook post can turn out to be undeniably awesome. This is one of those times.

Earlier this week, Rebecca Masterson, one of our Mighty contributors, received an email from an anonymous address saying that her refusal to accept autism as a gift “caused massive and major depression and an inability to feel happiness” in her son.

Masterson responded with the video below, captioned, “Thanks. But we’re good.”

 

Short. Sweet. Snappy. The best way, in my opinion, to respond to negativity.

That’s one Mighty mom.

P.S. You should read Masterson’s latest post, “The Best Part of Special Needs Parenting. No, Really,” and follow her on Facebook.

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How Should You Picture a Kid With Disabilities? This Way.

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When strangers used to ask Rachel and Sam Callander what was wrong with their daughter, the parents offered a lighthearted explanation: superpowers.

At the time, Evie Callander, who was born in 2008 with a rare chromosomal disorder, clearly experienced the world differently than other 2-year-olds. Certain sensations — the sound of electric sliding doors, for example — overwhelmed and upset her.

But that lighthearted answer — “superpowers” — turned out to be more true than her parents first realized. Because in her short, 2-year-long life, Evie exhibited a deeper, stronger, practically glowing sense of strength and love. It doesn’t get much more super than that.

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Super Power Baby Project / Rachel Callander

1001163_157163784469083_432214190_n When Evie died, her parents kept her close to them. Her pictures cover their home. They talk about her often.

“We knew we had been changed for the better because of her and people could see it too,” Rachel Callander, 33, told The Mighty. “They knew it was hard and we were really struggling. However, within all the sadness there was always a sense of pride of who she was and what she brought to the world.”

The entire experienced inspired the Callanders to celebrate other children with superpowers. They began photographing kids with disabilities in New Zealand and surveying their parents. The main question? “Tell us about your child’s superpowers.”

Portaits and quotes from 72 families now make up the “Super Power Baby Project” — an art book the Callanders hope will inspire others to look past disability.

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Super Power Baby Project / Rachel Callander
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Super Power Baby Project / Rachel Callander
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Super Power Baby Project / Rachel Callander
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Super Power Baby Project / Rachel Callander

“We want people to see humanity — to see the images and smile and say things like, ‘What a lovely child, how beautiful,'” Rachel Callander told The Mighty. “We want them to be struck by the children’s uniqueness, their innocence, their bodies, their eyes, their deepness — just as they would a stunning image of any child. We want people to see the children as their parents see them — with eyes of love.”

Sometimes, the project even helps parents see their own children in a new way. Callander says, when taking the initial survey, one participant’s mom realized she’d never talked about her child’s disability in a positive manner.

“She said she was no longer afraid to share him with the world,” Callander recalled. “We knew at that point we were onto something important.”

The book doesn’t view superpowers in a turn-yourself-invisible, fight-evil-villians, wear-a-flashy-costume sort of way. Its goal is not to trivialize a life with disability. It’s only out to celebrate and highlight strength.

“These kids really do have a deeper capacity for unconditional love, empathy, compassion, and they do bring out a deeper sense of love in people.They do promote a greater patience in others,” Callander told The Mighty. “When I think of the things the world needs right now, it’s love, patience, kindness and acceptance of others. These qualities are world changers in our opinion.”

Below, you can watch Callander’s TEDxAuxland Talk, where she further explains the project. And if you’re interested in ordering a copy of the book, head here. You can also get updates on Facebook.

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The Best Part of Special Needs Parenting. No, Really.

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unnamed A few months back, I got an email asking a few of us special needs moms to share the gifts of special needs parenting. The responses would be published, and the world would probably be a better place. I like to see my name in lights as much as anybody else, but I looked over at my autistic son who was talking to a crayon, I looked down at the stack of bills due this month, and said, yeah, maybe not today.

But the question stayed with me.

Don’t misunderstand me here. My son is amazing, and I love parenting this kid. But the question — as I decided to interpret it anyway — was what is great about parenting a child with special needs, not what is great about your kid with special needs. The latter is a much easier answer, but that’s not the answer I set out to find.

I thought about it. If you get past the therapies and the bills and the education issues and the worrying about the future, keep going beyond all the doctors and the teetering patience and the stress, if you really, really look, is there something back there, hiding, that is uniquely awesome about all this?

I had come up empty-handed for a few months now. But then…

We were cruising through the Ace Hardware, and my son found some PVC piping. He plopped himself down on the floor, grabbed a few pieces, and started configuring them together. A sales woman approached us, asked if we were finding what we needed, and in response, my son asked, “Oh hi, can you make a B-29 from this?” The sales woman said to me what everyone says to me, “I think you have an engineer on your hands here.” I smiled, and said what I always say. “Maybe.”

My son’s measurable mechanical talents live right next door to the fact that, at 8, he thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to sit in the middle of the PVC aisle at Ace Hardware and assemble a WWII aircraft. An engineer? Maybe. The truth is I don’t really care.

Wait. Say that again. The truth is I don’t really care. At all. I have no attachment to any plan that my son become an engineer, a pilot,or the CEO of the next Google.

I have great attachment, however, to the hope that he is happy.

Well, wow.

In the middle of a hardware store, I stumbled upon the special needs parenting pot of gold. If my son were typical, if we didn’t work so, so hard on what comes naturally to other kids, I can assure you that I would have his happiness tied to long-term education and career goals, all bundled together with socially-praised measures of success.

I have absolutely none of that.

I want my son to find his place in this world, wherever that is, and I want him to be happy. That’s it. I think this is about as pure and lovely as it gets. For the first time ever, I can honestly thank autism for something.

Sincerely,
Becca

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This post originally appeared on Sincerely, Becca.

Read more from Rebecca Masterson on The Mighty:
Dear Mom in the Waiting Room

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36 People Perfectly Explain Why Special Olympics Is So Important

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We write about athletes nearly every day at The Mighty. After all, athletes defy odds. They work hard, they prove naysayers wrong and they teach us about determination and commitment. They face adversity head on and go after their goals.

No organization celebrates the Mightiness of sports more than Special Olympics. We’ve touched on this in our stories, but we wanted to give the people involved – athletes, family members, fans, volunteers and sponsors – an opportunity to answer a simple but powerful question. Why is Special Olympics so important? More than 1,000 people responded to this question that we and Special Olympics posed to people on Facebook.

Here are our favorite responses.

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SO Robin

SO Melissa

SO Stacie

SO Heather

SO Jerry

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SO Kelly

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SO Keith

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SO Sherry

SO Wendy

SO Hailey

SO Kim

SO Tara

SO Lori

SO Crystal

SO Cara

Why is Special Olympics important to you? Let us know in the comments below.

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‘What’s Wrong With His Legs?’ A Special Needs Mom Public Service Announcement

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It’s hard out here in these parent-of-a-child-with-special-needs streets.

People have no common sense or just don’t know no betta. That’s where my public service announcement comes in. I figure it can’t hurt to educate folk as to what the experience is like on the backend of some of their ignorant (meant in the truest form of the word) comments. This time it’s me having to respond to the question, “What’s wrong with his legs?” from a stranger… in a motorized chair… with a cane… at a Wal-Mart. Seriously.

So yeah, that happened. Consider yourself informed. Curiosity is fine, but choose a better word than “wrong.”

This post originally appeared on Glamazini.

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A Message to the Good-Intentioned People Who Pray for Me to be ‘Healed’

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I’ve consciously identified as a Christian since my early teens and simply put, this means accepting that I am imperfect in my humanity and doing my best to show tolerance and love to everyone I meet, as Jesus did (including those who don’t share my beliefs).

As I’ve used a wheelchair pretty much since birth, my disability has always been obvious. This means that I tend to stand out in a crowd, so to speak. Among the most challenging side effects of this is that over the years, quite a number of strangers have felt compelled to publicly pray for me, with healing being the most common subject of their requests.

While I don’t doubt that those who do so have good intentions, being singled out in this manner is generally somewhat unpleasant. It takes me a while to get comfortable with strangers at the best of times. Putting my own social awkwardness aside though, what concerns me is that in many of these situations, the person praying seems to be driven by a desire to fix me or ease my suffering.

Although I’ve been through it several times, the incident I remember most clearly happened while my family was away on holiday at a resort in the mountainous area of the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. I was 11 or 12 at the time and had just been wandering around, enjoying my day, when I was approached by a family who spoke with European accents. The husband did most of the talking and the first thing he wanted to know was if I had contracted polio as a baby — a question I was already used to answering.

After some more small talk, he asked if he could pray for me. Not wanting to offend, I said yes. I remember that he took on a theatrical air, placing his hand on my head and shaking it as he spoke. When he was done, he said, “Now get up and show all these people how you can walk.”

I looked down at my legs, trying to will them into action. After a few seconds, I knew it wasn’t going to happen and quietly said, “I can’t.” After that, the inevitable awkwardness set in and the encounter came to an end.

I’ve made it clear that I respect people of faith, but I also think that sensitivity must be exercised with regard to how that faith is displayed. Even unintentionally instilling a physically-challenged child with the notion that he or she needs to be fixed can do a lot of harm. I have friends who remain believers but refuse to attend services because of experiences just like these.

I’d like to conclude with a request: if you as a believer (regardless of your faith or denomination) are truly motivated by compassion, take the time to understand and accept the disabled for who they are. Because if you do, your prayers will take on much greater significance.

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