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5 Gifts Children With Physical Disabilities Would Love From Their Parents

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As an adult living with amniotic band syndrome (think of Nemo’s “lucky fin” in “Finding Nemo”), I live with the constant stares, insults and general discomfort of strangers around me. Much of my “ability,” though, comes from the gifts my parents gave to me as a child. They raised me with the same love they gave my sisters. When I was growing up, my home was a safe space. This bolstered my self-confidence, allowed me to have and follow my dreams and made it possible for me to fearlessly go out into the world every day.

It is my holiday wish for all children with physical disabilities to receive the following five gifts from their parents:

5. A Sense of Normalcy

Please be mindful not to always give us lower expectations. Of course, there are things we physically cannot do, but please allow us to try doing things a different way. I may be missing two fingers on my left hand, but my mother still taught me how to write, color and draw with my left hand as a small child.

4. Self-Defense Skills

It’s been said that kids can be cruel. Well, so can adults. Please teach us that being disabled does not mean we must also be pushovers. We learn to defend ourselves when we see you being strong for us: when you take us to our doctor’s appointments, hold our hands before surgeries, patiently help us try on prosthetics or when you stand up for us by simply defending our right to an education.

3. Your Acceptance

Give us the gift of knowing you know who we are on the inside. When this comes consistently from the home and family, it stays with us through the onslaught of ignorance we face from strangers and bullies. 

2. Knowledge About Our Health

Sometimes, we don’t understand why we were made differently and we get frustrated with our shortcomings. Please share with us what we need to know in age-appropriate ways. Just because I have a giant chunk of my leg missing due to childhood surgeries does not mean it came from a shark bite, so please teach me what really happened so I know what to say when people ask me about it.

1. Unconditional Love

Choosing to keep, love and raise a child with visible physical disabilities was a gift from my parents that I will always be grateful for. The person I am today has been shaped largely by the unconditional love I receive from my family — the kind of real love that holds me accountable for my actions and also praises me for my accomplishments. That balance is the ultimate gift for any child, but especially for us!

The most beautiful thing about these gifts is you never need to tell us you are giving us them. We know and receive them from the way you parent us every day. The rest of the world may not always acknowledge how awesome and amazing you are, but you will know it and feel it every time we achieve something that makes you proud.

Originally published: December 15, 2015
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