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Why I Don't Care My Son With a Disability Stands Out

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My son stands out.

People stare. Everywhere we go, they stare. They gape at his unusual behavior. They talk behind their hands. Their faces are often unkind as they vacillate between observing him and regarding me with clouded eyes.

Sometimes he stims. Sometimes he jumps and jumps and jumps until most of us would have passed out from the exertion. He has a lot to say, yet he is nonverbal. He does not always use an inside voice. He touches people and property without permission because social graces are not his priority.

He stands out. And people notice.

It can feel so painful — truly agonizing — to see the expressions of others as they watch my son. I already dislike being noticed, preferring to stay invisible, hidden in the shadows. That is not possible with him beside me. Everyone knows when we arrive. And when we leave. Countless eyes, burning into my soul; yet he seems blissfully unaware.

And there it is.

My freedom.

In his pure heart, his beautiful, unmistakable exuberance and total joy, he overflows with life.

You will never get a better welcome than a Jonathan greeting. He accepts people as they are and has no tolerance for façades. He can see right through to the motives — he reads the heart.

He is so happy to be alive he cannot contain it. He jumps for joy. Contentment and gratitude define him. His vision is perfect, a child’s eyes, to see as God does. He is so focused on true reality and living it fully that he doesn’t seem to notice the faces people make. Even if he did, I don’t believe it would matter; he knows who he is, and in that confidence, he loves with every fiber of his being.

People may reject him. Their faces cold and hard, but he loves anyway. He is happy in spite of sour spirits and unkind words. He does not change because of others.

I want that. It is in me, yet, I often choose not to access it freely or consistently.

But I have a wonderful teacher in Jonathan, who demonstrates freedom every day, with every breath, every leap for joy, every shout and exclamation, every wild greeting of love, every unrequested touch imbued with kindness and compassion. I do not belong in the shadows and Jonathan calls me to jump in the sunshine with every new day.

My son stands out. He is a beacon and a testimony. The prayer of my heart is that I will stand up and stand out as he does. Shining brightly. Shining always. Shining on.

Getty image by LumineImages

Originally published: October 27, 2018
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