Deaf Mom and Her Son Completely Crush Usher Dance Routine

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Mark Villaver’s mom can’t hear the music in the video below. But she sure can feel the beat.

Villaver, a professional dancer who’s performed behind stars like Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande, posted a clip of him and his mom, Emilia, dancing to Usher’s “She Came to Give It to You” in mid-October.

“Mom, you want to dance?” he asks in the video. Her answer is an ecstatic “yes.”

Around the 0:32 mark, they break it down. Like mother, like son.

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Singer’s Touching New Video Brings Gift of Music to Those Facing Hearing Loss

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To singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson, the ability to hear music is everything.

So, instead of using his latest music video to show off his chops, paint a pretty scene or merely promote himself, Nathanson traveled with the Starkey Hearing Foundation to Peru to hand out more than 1000 hearing aids to those who couldn’t afford them. The result is the touching video below.

“To be able to be a small piece of these folks gaining their hearing or regaining their hearing, it’s beyond anything I’ve done,” the singer says in the clip.

Bonus: 100 percent of artist and label proceeds will be donated to the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

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Kids With Special Needs Are Not Given to Special People

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I’ve had the pleasure of being a momma to a child with special needs for seven and a half years. In that time, I’ve done everything possible to give my child, Connor, who has multiple complex medical needs, the best life imaginable. I’ve fought doctors on what I knew was best for him, marched the front steps at the State Capital rallying for his rights and even traveled around the world seeking treatment to give him a better quality of life. To say I’m a momma bear is an complete understatement.

In all these years I’ve heard from family, friends and strangers about what a great job I’m doing raising my Connor man. I look down, shift my feet around and quietly say thank you. Then the dreaded words are said. “God only gives special kids to special people.” I kindly smile on the outside, but on the inside I scream. I hate that saying. I know these sweet people only have the most genuine thoughts behind this, but they need to know the truth — God can give anyone, yes, anyone, a child with special needs.

special1

I’m not special. I’m not deserving of a little miracle child more than the next momma. I’m not that parent who goes to all the class parties with homemade cupcakes, makes the latest Pinterest project on organizing my laundry room. I’m not even the parent who remembers to sign the test folder every Tuesday evening. Nope, that’s not me. I’m ordinary and boring. I’m late to doctor appointments, I yell at drivers who don’t use their blinkers and I cringe when I see other moms at Target with their buggies full of organic foods and their well-behaved kids sweetly following behind. Agh! But I do know one thing: I’m a parent. I, like millions of other women, was so graciously given a child from God. My child just so happened to be born with special needs.

The feelings you encounter when finding out the news your perfect child isn’t so perfect is astounding. One can wallow in self pity, hate God for doing this to their child and accept that life for that precious child will be less than good. Or one can seek the good in a not-so-pleasant situation, find a greater faith in God and never accept anything less than perfect for their little miracle. It’s all in a matter of thinking. Having a child with any special need at all takes a strong person, and if you aren’t strong at first, you must start lifting the emotional weights life will be throwing at you. How you take on the responsibilities of this new life will ultimately determine what type of parent you will be.

We’ve all heard that saying: “God will never give you more than you can handle.” I call that BS. My God is a loving God but a challenging one. He wants to see me thrive and grow into the person I was meant to be. Challenges along the way are all a part of the journey He has created for me; how I deal with them is up to me. God will give me more than I can handle, but He guides me and gives me the grace to encounter them.

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In the past month, I’ve read six news articles on parents of children with special needs who have done horrendous, mind-blowing things to them. One mother poured perfume down her child’s feeding tube, another parent killed his child because he wouldn’t stop crying. Now please tell me again — God only gives special kids to special parents? Um, no. Thank you. It’s a sweet thought, but it’s just not true. I would hate to even think for one second that I could be put in the same category as any of these parents. God gives us gifts in the form of our beautiful children, special or not. He expects us to take care of them, love them and protect them.

I consider it a blessing to have my beautiful Connor. I’m thankful every single day for being able to raise such a precious miracle, but not every parent is like me. When you’re given a child with needs that are far greater than you can imagine, you must rise to the challenge and become the parent the child needs and whose life depends on it. It will be a tough, long road full of potholes and dangerous curves trying to throw you off course.

The next time you see a parent with a child with special needs doing a wicked awesome job, tell them exactly that. A simple, “Hey little momma, you’re doing a crazy amazing job raising that precious child of yours!” or even “Wow! I could only hope there are more parents like you out there!” or how about “You and your child are a match made in Heaven!” For most of us parents in the special needs world know our child is a blessing, however we could most definitely use a kind word telling us that perhaps we are a blessing also.

This post originally appeared on Red Stick Moms Blog from the City Moms Blog Network.

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How to Know When It's OK to Stare at a Child With Special Needs in Public, in One Simple Chart

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Since this seems to be something so many people in the world struggle with, we at The Mighty thought we’d try to break it down in one easy-to-read graphic. Maybe people will finally get it now. Maybe. 

use

 

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When the Barista Asked What My Son With Special Needs Has

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I stopped at my usual morning iced coffee place, and as I was paying for my caffeine, the woman behind the counter asked what Caden has. She asked because I was wearing my Team Caden shirt — a shirt I wear with pride as often as possible, a shirt that has raised money for other children who are medically fragile.

I stuttered over my words. She was the first person to ever just ask me that. “What does Caden have?” There was no one word answer, no specific diagnosis. So there I was spatting off a bunch of symptoms as the line behind me began to grow. I could tell she was sorry she asked. But she did, so I felt she needed to know.

After I listed a bunch of medical terms I’m sure she didn’t understand, I thanked her for asking me. I appreciated the fact that she wanted to know what was wrong with my son. All too often people avoid the topic of Caden or just look at me with those “I feel sorry for you” eyes, or they possibly even turn away.

As I continued my drive to work, I thought about what my son might say if he could. I envisioned him relaying a message for all who had no voice, for all the children the world does not understand, for all those who are “different.”

What he would say:

Please do not feel sorry for me.

I know it’s hard not to because I can not do the things others my age can do. I can not sit up, walk, talk, run or eat, but I can feel. I can feel the breeze on my face and the warmth of the sun. I feel the love that surrounds me, the touch of my daddy’s whiskers as he kisses me, my mommy’s heartbeat as she rocks me to sleep. I hear my brother and sister’s conversations and smile when they mention my name because I know they, too, love me.

I may not be able to do the things I want to but I’m lucky because I’m so loved. I know I will always be protected and my mommy and daddy will never stop fighting for me. They take me everywhere and do their very best to give me all of life’s experiences. Because of this I’m luckier than many, so please do not feel sorry for me.

young boy strapped in stroller

Please do not be afraid to hold me.

I know I have many medical conditions which make my body more fragile than most but I promise I will not break. Holding me is like holding any other child. If you feel comfortable with me in your arms, I will respond positively towards you. You will feel my body move as I laugh. You will see me look up into your eyes with love. I know it may seem scary to you, but I want to be hugged; I need to be held. I want to know that you are not afraid of me. Please ask to hold me next time you see me. My mommy and daddy would appreciate it too.

a father holding his son in his arms at the doctors office

Please talk to me.

My body may be broken, but my mind is not. I understand you, and although I may not be able to respond verbally, I want to. I have so much to say to the world and the more you talk to me the more I will learn so maybe someday I will have a voice of my own.

Please don’t talk to me like I’m a baby. I know that it’s hard sometimes because I can only do the things a baby can do, but I’m a little boy, and I understand everything you’re saying. And because of that, please watch what you say in front of me. Your words can hurt me, heal me, scare me or comfort me. They can make me laugh. They can make me cry. Your words can give me strength or break me down. So please speak positively to me, encourage me and let me know you love me.

young girl holding the hand of a boy seated in a stroller on the sidewalk

Please let your children play with me.

I’m not contagious. You can’t catch whatever it is I have. So please allow your children to play with me. It’s hard watching other children play without me. Even my own brother and sister play around me and not with me. Although there’s very little my body allows me to do, I can play. I know it’s hard but please try to find a way to make me a part of your world. I want to be able to do all the things you can do and maybe with your encouragement, some day can. Please don’t walk away when I’m near; walk towards me; hold my hand; try to make me a part of what you are doing. You may be surprised as to what I am able to do.

little boy in baby swing

Please do not be afraid to ask questions.

My mommy and daddy are so very proud of me and always appreciate it when people ask about me. They always say they would rather you ask than walk away. I know it’s sometimes hard to come up with the right questions to ask but that’s OK. I don’t mind if you ask what’s wrong with me. My mommy and daddy know what you’re asking and it doesn’t offend them. What upsets them is when you avoid me or the topic of me. In their eyes I’m a perfect little boy with a broken body. That’s all it is. My body doesn’t work right because my brain got hurt. Otherwise I’m as typical as you or your child. Ask questions because knowledge will open your eyes to who I really am.

smiling boy in stroller with stuffed bird and stuffed giraffe

Please listen to me.

I know I cannot put words together, but I do have a lot to say. I say it with my expressions, my body and my eyes. If you pay attention, you can understand what I am trying to say. I may be saying “thank you” or “I love you.” Or maybe I am letting you know I’m in pain or am scared. Just like a newborn I have different ways of telling you my needs. Please do not assume you always know what’s best for me. Try your very best to listen to what I have to say.

young boy sitting in specialized chair

Please appreciate the little things.

I know it’s hard sometimes and life can get pretty hectic, but please take the time to appreciate the little things. Appreciate your family, your friends and the world around you. Enjoy the beautiful sunrise, the sweet smells, and those perfect days. I know I do because I never know where I will be tomorrow. I’ve missed too many seasons and too many memories because I’ve been in the hospital. I’ve watched too many friends like me pass away. Life is so precious no matter who you are or how you live it. I may be limited with what I can do, but I know how very lucky I am. I’m lucky to have a family that loves me so much. I’m lucky because I was able to go to school today rather than lay in a hospital bed.

Yes… today, I am one very lucky little boy.

family including mother, father, two young sons and a young daughter
This post originally appeared on ‘Cause Caden Can.

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31 Truths Parents of Children With Special Needs Wish Others Understood

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Life is all about understanding each other. That’s what we at The Mighty believe. So often when we interview parents of children with special needs, we hear a similar sentiment: I wish others would take the time to understand…” 

So we thought we’d help that happen. We asked our Mighty bloggers and Facebook community what they wish other people understood about their child with special needs. These are their answers.

Meme that says [We don't want to our daughter to be different. We don't wish for a different version of her. We want her, exactly as she is, wheelchair and all. -- Laurie Arnold]

“We don’t want our daughter to be different. We don’t wish for a different version of her. We want he exactly as she is, wheelchair and all.”– Laurie Arnold

Meme that says [Please know my son is doing the best he can. -- Carrie Cariello]

“Please know my son is doing the best he can.”–Carrie Carriello

Meme that says [I'm not handling my daughter's disability because God gave me as much as I can handle. It's actually because of my own resilience and determination to make our lives as normal as possible. --Serena Fuller]

“I’m not handling my daughter’s disability because God gave me as much as I can handle. It’s actually because of my own resilience and determination to make our lives as normal as possible.” –Serena Fuller

Meme that says [People with disabilities are not less. They're different.--Lauren Jordan]

“People with disabilities are not less. They’re different.”–Lauren Jordan

Meme that says ['Oh, he looks normal' is not a compliment. --Melissa Montoya]

“‘Oh, he looks normal’ is not a compliment.”–Melissa Montoya

Meme that says [My daughter is so much more than a label. --Gemma Bryan]

“My daughter is so much more than a label.”–Gemma Bryan

Meme that says [My son is capable of so much love. --Gloria Payne Bearne]

“My son is capable of so much love.”–Gloria Payne Bearne

Meme that says [I'd rather you ask me what's wrong with my daughter than give me dirty looks. --Alysaa Korzeniowski]

“I’d rather you ask me what’s wrong with my daughter than give me dirty looks.”–Alysaa Korzeniowski

Quote that says [My boys are happy and full of joy even though they're in wheelchairs. --Kelly Mantoan]

“My boys are happy and full of joy even though they’re in wheelchairs.”–Kelly Mantoan

Meme that says [Try throwing us a smile. If you only knew how such a small act of kindness can make a difference . --April Shaw]

“Try throwing us a smile. If you only knew how such a small act of kindness can make a difference .”–April Shaw

Meme that says [My daughter doesn't expect you to be perfect. Why do you expect her to be? -- Shen Mager] “My daughter doesn’t expect you to be perfect. Why do you expect her to be? “– Shen Mager

Meme that says [I want others to accept my child for who she is. To look close and see her goodness. --Suzanna Perryman]

“I want others to accept my child for who she is. To look close and see her goodness.”–Suzanna Perryman

Meme that says [My son is a little boy. He is not a hero. He is not a victim. Sometimes he is happy, sometimes he is sad. Some days he is nice, some days (most days?) he is naughty. Pity is not the same as empathy and seeing my son for what he can't do, rather than what he can, will hurt his chances to live a full and productive life far more than his disability ever could. --Mary Evelyn Smith]

“My son is a little boy. He is not a hero. He is not a victim. Sometimes he is happy, sometimes he is sad. Some days he is nice, some days (most days?) he is naughty. Pity is not the same as empathy and seeing my son for what he can’t do, rather than what he can, will hurt his chances to live a full and productive life far more than his disability ever could.” –Mary Evelyn Smith

Meme that says [A diagnosis can't predict the extraordinary love you will have for your child. --Tara McCallan]

 “A diagnosis can’t predict the extraordinary love you will have for your child.”–Tara McCallan

Meme that says [My daughter responds best to patience, understanding and love. --Shelli Burgio]

“My daughter responds best to patience, understanding and love.”–Shelli Burgio

Meme that says [My son is more like your child than he is different. --Talitha Snyder]

“My son is more like your child than he is different.”–Talitha Snyder

Meme that says [My son doesn't need to be fixed. He's perfect the way he is. --Jennifer Brock]

“My son doesn’t need to be fixed. He’s perfect the way he is.”–Jennifer Brock

Meme that says [Special needs parents (though we are super) do what we have to do not because we like to outdo average parents, but because it's what we have to do. --Tara Michele Clifton]

“Special needs parents (though we are super) do what we have to do not because we like to outdo average parents, but because it’s what we have to do.” –Tara Michele Clifton

Meme that says [My child really is special needs (even if he doesn't look like it).--Valma Ashpaugh]

“My child really is special needs (even if he doesn’t look like it).”–Valma Ashpaugh Meme that says [My son is a child. A wonderful, perfect child. --Erin Szakos]

“My son is a child. A wonderful, perfect child.”–Erin Szakos

Meme that says [Children with special needs can hear you. --Jenna Rae Furlong]

“Children with special needs can hear you.”–Jenna Rae Furlong

Meme that says [See the child beyond the disability. --Alyssa Korzeniowski]

“See the child beyond the disability.”–Alyssa Korzeniowski

Meme that says [My son wants friends too! He just needs help and understanding. --Cayla Duncan]

“My son wants friends too! He just needs help and understanding.”–Cayla Duncan

Meme that says [As hard as it is for everyone else, it's even harder for her. --Teri Bass]

“As hard as it is for everyone else, it’s even harder for her.”–Teri Bass

Meme that says [You shouldn't pretend you can't see us at a park or community event. We need friends and communication too. --Rachel Bradley]

“You shouldn’t pretend you can’t see us at a park or community event. We need friends and communication too.”–Rachel Bradley

Meme that says [There's no reason for pity. --Anne Wilson]

“There’s no reason for pity.”–Anne Wilson

Meme that says [Stop staring as I comfort my 8-year-old son when he's overwhelmed. He can be 15 for all I care. If he needs momma's comforting, guess what? He's going to get it! --Vanessa Sanchez]

“Stop staring as I comfort my 8-year-old son when he’s overwhelmed. He can be 15 for all I care. If he needs momma’s comforting, guess what? He’s going to get it!”–Vanessa Sanchez

Meme that says [My son has a heart and feelings too! --Sara Kinman Godby]

“My son has a heart and feelings too!”–Sara Kinman Godby

Meme that says [A diagnosis is a small part of a whole, 3-dimensional being. --Molly Prive]

“A diagnosis is a small part of a whole, 3-dimensional being.”–Molly Prive

spk anita

“My child is not a hero, not a warrior, not a monster, not a poster child for his disease…just a little boy who likes boy things like baseball and cartoons, who hurts like a little boy when he is poked with needles too often, who laughs at silly things that little boys laugh at like farting and falling. He is just a little boy who has a failing body…and my love for him is as fierce, protective, devoted, sacrificial and as loyal as any good mother’s love can be–special needs or not.”–Anita Birk

31 Truths Parents of Children With Special Needs Wish Others Understood
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