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My Child's Disability Is Not What Will Hold Her Back in Life

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My child’s disability is not what will hold her back in this life.

You are.

Let me clarify.

You are, if you are a person who chooses to stay closed minded and believe that my child’s disability will hold her back in life.

The reality is that her disability will present challenges that others may not have. True indeed. But, it’s my job, our job as a family and her job as an individual, to push through and figure out how to make things work for her. That means we have to be more creative, more assertive and more tenacious.

It also means the people around her have to participate as well. They have to be more open minded to see the creativity that we use to tackle challenges and break through barriers. They have to recognize that it’s not black and white — just because a person has no legs does not mean he cannot play sports, he just has to get creative about it. There is a lot of gray area. Within that gray area there are ways in which my child and others like her will meet milestones, accomplish tasks, achieve goals and become more independent.

If my kid cannot vocalize her words, it does not mean she cannot effectively communicate. It means we help support her with other forms of communication, like signs, pictures, a tablet. And, it’s your job to be open to that type of communication.

If you are not open, you are holding her back.

If my kid cannot hear, it does not mean she cannot understand. It means that we will put the people and resources in place so that she can still be given information. It’s your job to recognize those resources and utilize them too.

If not, you are holding her back.

If my kid cannot use her hands to grip a paint brush, it does not mean she cannot use art as a creative outlet. It means that we help her to enjoy other mediums, like finger paints, stickers, clay; and perhaps we continue to work on the goal to hold a paintbrush if appropriate. It’s your job to accept that these are the ways in which she can express her creativity and support her work towards her ultimate goal.

If you will not, you are holding her back.

If my child does not have as high an IQ as another, it does not mean she is incapable of learning. It means we will need to put additional learning supports in place with an IEP, an aid, a tutor, and any other means available. It’s your job to work with those learning supports as well.

If you refuse, you are holding her back.

If my child does not walk, it does not mean she cannot enjoy time on the playground. It means we have to help ensure that the playground is ADA friendly and teach her how to use the equipment based on her physical attributes.

If you cannot see that, then you are holding her back.

If my child has a disability that makes her talk, walk, learn and communicate differently, it does not mean she cannot have meaningful social interactions and develop relationships. Nor does it mean she doesn’t want or need them. It means we have to seek out individuals who are open to interactions, regardless of how different they may be.

If you are not open, you are holding her back.

In this life, there is an expectation that each one of us participate in lifting up those around us instead of tearing them down. There is an expectation that each one of us participate in furthering the successes of those around us. This is how humanity works. Do not be mistaken, doing these things does not impede our quality of life, it enriches it. We all have things to give and things to gain from each other, regardless of medical diagnoses. It takes an open mind to see it, believe it and live it.

So, the next time you go to comment about how a person with XYZ disability cannot do this or that — think again. It’s that kind of attitude that makes it difficult for people with disabilities to tackle challenges. Be better. Be bigger. Be kind. Be patient. Be willing. Be human. Be the person you would want someone to be towards you if you were disabled.

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Originally published: August 19, 2019
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