When My Daughter With Special Needs Was Teased by Her Peers

Kate has taught our family many lessons over the years. Just last weekend, I learned another one about forgiveness.

Kate attends a wonderful program called Our Place. Their mission is to support teens and adults with developmental disabilities so they can live meaningful, productive and socially connected lives in their home community.

You’ll notice in Our Place’s mission statement the attendees are referred to as adults and teens first. First and foremost, they’re people. Even if Kate can’t really read or write, drive a car and pick out the seasonally appropriate clothing, she’s a person with emotions just like you and me.

I wasn’t there on Saturday night, but the staff pulled me aside when I picked Kate up and told me Dick had been really mean to Kate. Jane joined in, too. They were so mean to Kate that she cried — really hard. The staff handled the situation, and by the time we got there, Dick and Jane said hi to me, while Kate came bounding down the stairs full of stories about karaoke night and singing “High School Musical” songs. Dick asked when he and Kate could go see a movie.

I didn’t bring it up the incident to Kate later that night because, to be honest, my heart broke for her for two reasons: 1) I wasn’t there to protect her. I’m her mom and that’s my job. 2) I had to wrap my head around the fact the kids who are teased all their lives for being different also tease and make fun of people, too. Surprised? You would think they knew firsthand what it feels like and wouldn’t want to hurt anyone else. But then you have to remember, first and foremost, they’re people, too.

Cheryl Noll the mighty

In less than two hours, Kate’s heart had evidently been broken, mended and the situation was forgiven and forgotten. How many of us can say that? How many of us aren’t speaking to a family member about something that hurt our feelings? How many of us have hurt someone else and didn’t ask for forgiveness? Kate, and others like her, experience life the same way we do, but their perspectives are different. I often wish mine was more like hers.

I did ask her this morning if she wanted to talk about what happened last night that made her cry. Her response: “No, we apologized. What’s for breakfast?” Just like that, it was over for her. But I’ll be thinking about it for a long time and worry about her. But that’s my job. Her job is to share the joy, and she’s doing it very well.

A version of this post originally appeared on All I Ever Wanted to Be Was Normal.

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