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When Customers Questioned Working With Me Because I Have a Child With Special Needs

When our daughter suffered from a traumatic brain injury due¬†to her metabolic crisis, there were a lot of things we weren’t prepared for.¬†Things like a G-tube. Things like unbelievable¬†amounts of therapy, appointments with¬†more specialists than I thought possible and the exhaustion that came with all¬†of that. One thing I didn’t think we would have to encounter would be people’s¬†resistance to work with us in business.

I’m talking about this topic because I don’t believe it’s¬†ever been talked about. Seriously, I Googled ‚Äúlosing business when you have a¬†special needs child‚ÄĚ and the like, and I found zero. Nada. But this totally happens because it’s happened¬†to my husband and I both, and on more than one occasion.

We were first met with this startling reality when my¬†husband, who owns his own insurance agency and has been selling insurance¬†for 17 years, had to hear about a phone call his customer had with one¬†of his employees. The customer called wanting to speak with my husband, but he¬†wasn’t there and the customer was upset she couldn’t talk with him. This was right¬†after our three-week stay in the children’s hospital when our world was turned¬†upside-down. My husband and I were both doing the therapy and doctors’ appointments¬†together, as a family. We needed each other to lean on and we needed to be¬†there for our daughter. We did this for a couple months. The employee informed¬†the customer we’d been in the hospital recently with our daughter and mentioned¬†we had a special needs child.

‚ÄúOh, he has a special needs child?‚ÄĚ they remarked. ‚ÄúDo we¬†need to take our business somewhere else? Will he be able to help us?‚ÄĚ

The employee on the phone handled it with such grace and¬†truth, ‚ÄúWell sir, I’m helping you right now, and we have three other people who¬†can assist you with all of your insurance needs.‚ÄĚ

I’ve been a realtor for 11¬†years. To say my husband and¬†I are both seasoned in our careers would be an understatement. I’m hired based¬†on my merit, based on my track record, based on recommendations and referrals¬†from past customers. So when I had a customer call my broker and tell him the reason her home was not selling was ‚Äúdue to that special needs child she¬†has and her current life circumstances,‚ÄĚ I was livid. The reason, ma’am, that your home¬†is not selling is due to the price and home nuances, based on feedback from 20-plus realtors, as I’ve told you for several months now. It is not my
daughter’s fault your home is not selling. It is not my fault. The fact that I
care for my beautiful, fighter of a daughter does not mean I don’t know how to
sell homes or be a realtor anymore.

Why am I talking about this? Shouldn’t this be kept amongst¬†our family and not put on blog blast? What if our daughter reads it one day?

I hope she reads this,¬†because she will know, beyond a shadow of¬†the slightest doubt, that her mom and dad fought for her and they¬†stood up to these injustices. She will learn¬†to stand up for herself ‚ÄĒ after all, that’s one of the biggest things we as¬†parents can teach her to do. She can watch her parents fight on her behalf and¬†stand up to these ridiculous stereotypes no one talks about but¬†unconsciously feels in their hearts. She will watch as her parents enlighten¬†people about these skirted topics and she will know we never shied away¬†from difficult things, that we approached them head on and then dropped the¬†mic.

It’s a new type of discrimination that says, ‚ÄúI think you¬†would do a good job, but you have stuff¬†in your life.‚ÄĚ

A friend and customer wrote these words to me, and nothing¬†has resonated more than this: ‚ÄúWhen those people question your ability,¬†it’s a reflection of how they believe they’d¬†handle the same situation. If they¬†don’t think you¬†can, it’s because they don’t think they¬†could.‚ÄĚ

Having a daughter with additional needs does not make me¬†incapable of working. It is possible for me to have a career and do a damn good¬†job at it, while mothering and being a wife and friend. And having¬†my daughter will not make me be quiet on the issues our family faces; on the¬†contrary, I’m going to talk about it, with a megaphone.

little girl in glasses on swing
Anne-Marie’s daughter.

I want my daughter to walk proudly. I want her to walk strong.

Walking ‚ÄĒ¬†something she started doing at 2 and a half years¬†of age, something she was never guaranteed.

I want my daughter to know she has overcome so many¬†obstacles, more than many have ever had to¬†encounter. I want her to know that thousands are standing and watching, awestruck as they follow her story, watching countless miracles continue to¬†unfold. I want to tell my little princess she’s taught us to fight harder. And¬†I want her to know she did not inhibit us. On the¬†contrary, she changed us for the better and challenged us. She brought a voice¬†to the silent hardships¬†so many families face. Without her, we wouldn’t even know about¬†these hardships.

We will forever be the champions¬†you need, daughter, until you¬†can voice things on your own. And even then, you won’t be on your own. We will¬†always have your back, ready to deal with any inequalities you might face. Embrace your story, noble girl, and hold your¬†head high for you have much to be proud of.¬†We¬†are thankful for you.

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 ‚ÄĒ 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 Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.