Frogs, Cats and A New Word Neurotypical
There is something fascinating about watching a child become aware and begin to act out their new-found awareness in the things they do. That’s been especially true when I see John-Michael doing something new.
I apologize for not being able to show you this on video but this last weekend for the first time I have ever seen him do anything of the sort, we watched John-Michael pretend to be a frog and hop across the floor. I know… it seems so ordinary but when someone with special needs suddenly does something they’ve never done before you get a sense of how truly miraculous we are as beings.
In the last few days we’ve seen some fantastic things in John-Michael and some of the things he’s done that remind us that, although these things have taken longer for him to achieve than his sisters achieved them, he can and will do things that other neurotypical kids can.
As parents I believe we need to foster that ability by setting high standards and encouraging them to do more than they believe they can. Even if we struggle in our belief too.
I watched John-Michael this weekend not only pretend to be a frog but imitate a cat meowing and licking its paws. That’s profound for someone labeled by society as intellectually disabled and it’s exactly why I refuse to tell anyone that my son is “disabled”. I tend not to even acknowledge that he a “special needs child” because to me he’s just my son. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.
Does he have challenges?
But to me a challenge is nothing more than something that can and should be overcome. But to be disabled… you’re saying that they aren’t able to do what others can. And when they’re three years old, you can’t possibly know what they are truly capable of.
Yes, in the end John-Michael may have limited abilities for certain things but even being limited isn’t the same as incapable.
I chose to look at a child and try to find their potential and focus on nurturing that. I know it seems like I’m living a fantasy to some and I’m not perfect at it and I certainly have made my share of mistakes, even big mistakes. But as a parent of a wonderful and wondrous boy who happened to be born with Down syndrome and has had to overcome seizures, massive upper respiratory challenges, a broken leg and a scary hypoglycemic event. As well as currently working to overcome other physical challenges and speech challenges, I’ve been witness to too many miracles not to see him as completely able.
And because of that I would say that he’s already a winner and has learned to overcome more of life’s challenges than most of his peers will ever have to experience in their lifetimes!
So when you look at John-Michael, do him and me a favor, don’t see him as disabled. See him as a child of God who was given to us as a gift to inspire and destroy the illusion, that just because someone was born this way doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable in some way.
My John-Michael is a treasure among treasures and no one will ever convince me otherwise! And I know that your son or daughter, special needs or not, is just as precious to you and to this world as John-Michael is to ours. So, let’s not let the world define who our children are or will become because frankly, that’s our job!
Have a GREAT day!