When It's Almost OK to Stare at My Son With a Disability


Hank isn’t a typical 2-year-old. At first glance, you might not see it. But if your eyes linger a moment, you can. And it’s almost OK to stare.

Hank doesn’t sit or stand or walk. He doesn’t talk. He can’t use his hands or feed himself; he can’t eat regular food. He wears braces on his ankles and gloves on his hands and a patch on one eye. And when we go out, we use a special seat. It’s bright orange so you’ve probably noticed it.

I’ve seen you look. You glance a few times, making sure I don’t catch you. I watch your children point and ask about my son and you say you don’t know; you say it’s rude to point, you distract them.

And that’s when it’s not OK.

 

Instead, come and say hello, encourage your children to do the same. Hank loves people. Let your child ask their question, because talking about it is how we teach them not to be afraid of disabilities.

When you hush them and rush away, you are telling them my son is somehow frightening. You show your children to ignore someone different.

I won’t take up much of your time. Like you, I am on an errand. I’ll make it simple; I’ll explain it age-appropriate to your child. I’ll tell you to find Hank on Facebook. If you don’t know what to say, just smile and tell my son he’s cute. I will smile, Hank will giggle, and we can both walk away having a positive interaction with a stranger.

Follow this journey at Henry the Hero.

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