We went out to dinner last night at a casual, sit-down restaurant. The girls and I grabbed a table while Daddy stood in line to order food. For a solid three minutes, KC, my daughter who has Down syndrome, yelled for “Dadad,” who was standing just around the corner.
Naturally, we gained some attention from diners, but when she stopped using her toddler voice, the attention quickly faded — except for at one nearby table, where a lady sat across from us on the same bench as the young child she was with. The young child hardly noticed us, but the lady couldn’t stop staring.
After some time, it really started bothering me.
I could feel her watching our every move. I’m not talking about the occasional glance and smile as you look off. I’m talking full-on staring in the opposite direction of her young dinner companion. The longer it went on the more I started to feel self-conscious and wondered exactly what was so entertaining that she was willing to ignore the kid with her just so she could stare at us.
I wondered if she was staring because she’d noticed something different about KC. My mind went to those crazy momma places, wondering if this could be what our future looks like. I wondered if KC’s calling for Dad was more disruptive or out of the ordinary than I realized. I even wondered if people are so ridiculous that a grown adult with a child of their own could be so distracted by KC’s presence that she couldn’t function normally at a dinner table.
Clearly, I was beyond annoyed.
I tried to watch her eyes to see what specifically she was looking at. It was impossible to know for sure. I eventually pointed it out to “Dadad,” who confirmed for me she was indeed staring. Then, I decided to try to catch her eyes so I could stare back and give her a moment of the same awkwardness I’d been experiencing from her. (Mature, I know). I eventually moved seats to help one of our girls with her meal, and my focus was able to shift back to the people at the table who actually mattered.
I realized her awkwardness was winning over me, and there’s a real possibility she was just staring me down rather than KC. I’d pushed those thoughts aside, and when we got up to leave the restaurant I realized her table was empty. I hadn’t even noticed her get up.
The last few days my girls have spent a lot of time playing with neighbor friends. As one of our neighbor friend’s little girl ran to embrace KC, or “Cannady,” as she calls her, I realized I have a choice.
I can be the mom who confronts everyone who looks at my daughter(s) the wrong way and give them a piece of my mind, or I can be the mom so caught up in the presence of our family and friends that I don’t even notice those staring eyes.
I can be angry and hurt, or I can be a loving example of how truly typical we are.
Today, I’m thankful for those loved “framily” members who make it such an easy choice — a choice to be present with those I love.
The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a moment you were met with extreme negativity or adversity related to your disability and/or disease (or a loved one’s) and why you were proud of your response — or how you wish you could’ve responded. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.
After spotting a fan holding a sign that read “I’m Beating Cancer” in the audience, Cena directed an uplifting speech his way. The WWE champion then went into the crowd to greet the fan, invited him into the ring and let him hold his belt.
“If I say or if I wear the words ‘never give up,’ not only am I telling the truth, but I am encouraging young and old, all alike, like that person right there, to do the exact same thing,” Cena emphatically exclaimed to the audience in the video below, pointing to fan before bringing him onstage.
Hoping to foster new skills by crossing state lines, four friends with developmental disabilities recently embarked on a 6,000-mile experimental learning cross-country road trip.
The travelers — Jon Caldwell, Nick Feeterman, Aaron Hanson and Eric Johnson — all met in Guys Group, a social group based in Buffalo, New York, for men with developmental disabilities. Developed by People Inc., a nonprofit human services agency, Guys Group “helps participants discover and nurture their passions, build lasting friendships and develop important life skills so they can have increased opportunities and work independently,” according to a press release.
This trip is Guys Group on wheels. The 12-day expedition will bring the group to California and back, and the gentlemen will do everything from planning and budgeting, to learning safety and social skills. They’re accompanied by Nick Cacciotti and Chris Zienski, two People Inc. life coaches and, temporarily, van drivers. While the organization raised moneyusing Go Fund Mefor gas and tolls, the guys are budgeting on their own for meals.
Cacciotti, who’s been working for People Inc. for about 10 years, told The Mighty he wants to see the guys meet new people and practice life skills in a natural setting.
“We’re trying to stay out of it,” he said. “We want to open up the country to them.”
The journey started on May 30, after a send-off party in Buffalo. By the evening of day three, they were already in Colorado, gathered around a campfire making s’mores.
Other planned stops include sites like the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Hollywood. They’ll also be visiting developmental disability agencies, where they’ll talk about Guys Group and meet new friends. They’ve already visitedBethesda Lutheran Communities in Fort Collins, Colorado, and spent time with people who receive its services.
Julie Tuskes, Nick Feeterman’s mom, told The Mighty this is her son’s first time traveling alone. Feeterman, 30, has lived in his own apartment for about three years and currently works at Walgreens.
“He never really had any idea how big this country is,” Tuskes said. “The trip is just one more step for independence.”
Feeterman told The Mighty he’s most looking forward to Las Vegas, and has been posting pictures of Colorado mountains on Facebook. “[The trip] is a good excuse to get out of the house and do something,” he said.
Aaron Hanson, 22, was born in California and is most excited to see his grandma, who he hasn’t seen since moving to Buffalo as a child.
“She’s going to be speechless,” he said. “I’m going to tell her how much I care about her.”
Don Johnson, father of Eric Johnson, is pushing for his son’s independence. His parents bought him his first smartphone for this trip, and they’re hoping it will help prepare Eric, 35, for living in a group home.
Johnson has traveled before, but his father said these trips were less flexible and more itinerary oriented. This is his first time traveling with this much freedom.
“I’m really interested to see what he thinks about things like the Grand Canyon,” Don Johnson said. “I want to hear it in his own words.”
If you haven’t been to therapy before, seeking help can seem like a daunting task. Sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with a stranger might be scary, and, at first, it might be difficult to see how doing so would even make a difference. But therapy can have some amazing benefits. Verbally expressing how you feel can be cathartic, and getting another person’s perspective — especially someone trained to listen to you as well as provide support and guidance — can be enlightening.
But these are the generalized, well-publicized benefits you can read about on a pamphlet in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. We wanted to hear about some of the less publicized outcomes of therapy from people who experience it. The Mighty and Mental Health America asked our readers to share an unexpected result of going to therapy. If you’ve been on the fence about seeing a therapist, maybe these responses will help you decide if it’s right for you.
Here are some of the responses we received:
1. “[I’ve felt] empowered by therapists who talk about my behavior like I’m a person and not like I’m a case study.” — Anna Williams
2. “[I finally understand] that it’s not my fault because for so long I didn’t understand that.” — Melissa Cote
3. “Prolonged exposure has turned my nightmares back to memories that don’t have power over me.” — Shari Brown
4. “[I’m] finally really hearing that I’m a good person and that I have worth.” — Joy Sexton
5. “It gets much worse before it gets better, but it’s worth it.” — Riley McLane
6. “A good therapist can help you think about how to help fix a problem yourself, and if you can’t, to cope with the situation in a healthy way.” — April Power
7. “I didn’t expect to learn so much. I didn’t just learn what to do and how to do it, I learned why the techniques I learned were so helpful. I feel like I understand so much more about people in general, not just those who share my challenges. It was so eye-opening for me and one of the most constructive experiences of my life.” — Teri Todd
Brown, owner of Project Bearings — a blog and organization that “provides a place to discuss advocacy and resource navigation with respect to autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities” — originally tweeted the screenshot, questioning why such a photo was chosen to represent people with autism.
Brown told The Mighty she finds the photo despairing.
“My first instinct when I saw this picture was that my child and family already face a certain amount of societal misunderstanding and/or discrimination, and the last thing parents of children with autism need is to compound this with a view of our children as angry or threatening,” Brown explained in an email. “My child is smiley and kind, and he does not deserve any additional stigma that a photo like that creates. He faces enough as it is.”
Others on Twitter echoed her sentiment, describing the photo as “deeply offensive,” “cruel” and “insensitive.”
The Mighty reached out to both People.com and RMHealthy.com for a comment but did not receive a reply.
Brown said she’d appreciate an apology from both outlets and suggested they feature a new post — one that includes a montage of children with autism. “Real children with autism,” Brown clarified, “and their beautiful, smiling, kind faces.”
Do you have a personal photo you feel would be more appropriate to represent this article ? We’d love to see them. Post your photos in the comment section below or email us at [email protected]