No Really, He's Happy and Has Special Needs

smiling boy with woman

I'm on a train going home the other day and a guy sits down in the seat opposite me. We end up talking and it turns out we have a mutual friend.  He asks where the kids go to school, and I tell him.  He's never heard of Max's school, and I explain it's for kids with special needs.

"Can I ask what his disability is?" he says.

"He has cerebral palsy," I say.

"Ohhhh," he says.  "That must be hard for him."

"Nope," I say, cheerfully.  "He's a happy kid."

"How does it affect him?" he asks.

I explain that Max has issues with speech and using his hands, the simplified way I usually explain cp.

"Doesn't it bother him that he can't talk like other kids can?" the guy asks.

Wow.  That's bold. " No, it doesn't--because he doesn't think he's different," I say.  "He tries to talk in his own way, and he has an iPad with a communication app.  He plays like other kids play.  He laughs like other kids laugh.  His cerebral palsy does not impair his ability to be a kid!"

And then I pull out a picture of Max with his gigantic grin and show it to the guy.  "Does this kid look unhappy to you?" I ask.

"No," he says, and we move on to other topics, and I'm just a little flustered at having to explain, once again, that Max's special needs are not a tragedy.

It's not just strangers.  I've had conversations along these lines with friends and family.  Early on in Max's life, a very close family member once wondered out loud whether the reason Max smiled a lot was because he was simple-minded.  It took a few therapy sessions to get past that one.

My child is happy with who he is.

I need the t-shirt.

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Comments (10)
Photo of Laura J.
Laura J.
Thank for this opportunity TO SHOT OUT. I adopted a young man with special needs he has improve to the best of his ability.All he wanted was a loving family now he is shinning with laughter love.
Posted: April 12, 2011 at 4:26 AM
Photo of Cleora S.
Cleora S.
Cleora S.

I have a son who has Autism.Who is smart,creative,sweet,kind,funny,caring,and independent.He is always happy and has a smile on his face.To me he is just another kid, with lots of talent that only angels get.He has helped me help him.We now live in the same world and he is doing so well.For all the MOMS who never hear this,Your Doing A Great Job Mom! And enjoy every little minute with GOD's special Gift.
Posted: March 22, 2011 at 9:53 PM
Photo of Christine W.
Christine W.
I have a boy who has Autism. And I tell people all the time about him and his special needs. I just want as much help as we can get for him. We get a lot of support from family, friends. Christine W.
Posted: March 15, 2011 at 2:59 PM
Photo of Jeremy C.
Jeremy C.
I'm a teachers aide for special needs/multi handicapped children. Many say it takes a special kind of person to do what I do. I just tell 'em, "Naahh, you just got to love kids!"
Posted: March 15, 2011 at 6:14 AM
Paulina W.
HI, I'm Paulina W. but mostly they call me Nan.
I just loved Alice B's story and wish I was her little guy's caregiver. I'm still looking for a caregiver job. Haven't got one yet, and it's been nearly a month. I can only think that my grandmotherly age is part of all that.

I am particularly good with kids with special needs. We relate on a deeper level. (Basic signing skills help, but generally I understand 'kid talk' well, and the rest is just spirit-to-spirit.) Good luck Alice,I know that you know what I mean.

Sincere Thanks for Sharing, Nan.
Posted: March 13, 2011 at 9:30 PM
Photo of Cecelia M.
Cecelia M.
i have a litlle one who is an aspie and once I mention she is in special education i get that look "well whats her special needs" I just smile and give them a blank look and leave an akward silence because if theses people are so ignorant they will just label her.I would mind she will probably outshine them all with an I,Q OF 146.You done well and like max they are the happiest kids around they are so happy inthere own little world and lets face it kids in an a-typical neuro state have to deal with peer pressure etc. Give yourself a big pat on the back for doing a great job sinle or married a woman carries all the weight of it all anyway............Iwish you an max a great life..
Posted: March 13, 2011 at 7:19 PM
Photo of Cecelia M.
Cecelia M.
i have a litlle one who is an aspie and once I mention she is in special education i get that look "well whats her special needs" I just smile and give them a blank look and leave an akward silence because if theses people are so ignorant they will just label her.I would mind she will probably outshine them all with an I,Q OF 146.You done well and like max they are the happiest kids around they are so happy inthere own little world and lets face it kids in an a-typical neuro state have to deal with peer pressure etc. Give yourself a big pat on the back for doing a great job sinle or married a woman carries all the weight of it all anyway............Iwish you an max a great life..
Posted: March 13, 2011 at 7:18 PM
Photo of Mary Ann S.
Mary Ann S.
Sounds familiar to me. My thirteen year old son has cerebral palsy, is in a general education classroom of a middle school, enjoys adaptive sports in track and field, enjoys wheelchair basketball, loves music and his i-pod, and is a very typical teen (including the voice changing) except for his physical limitations. He's is quick with his humor and is very sociable.

When I get the "oh, poor thing" response, I immediately say, "No, do not pity him. He has a good quality of life and is loved by family and friends." I am teaching my son to advocate for himself and to NOT use his physical limitations to keep barriers in his life. Yes, things need to be adaptive to accommodate his needs, but when you are creative you can manage to do alot.

My son competes every summer at the Endeavor Games in Edmond, OK for track and field events. For the past three summers he has won many gold and silver medals and competes at the National Junior Disability Championship (NJDC) that has taken us to New Jersey, Missouri, and Illinois. He will start his spring training this month and hopes to qualify for NJDC this year in Michigan.

Yep, raising a child with cerebral palsy has it's challenges. But with a positiive attitude, a strong faith, and support, you can overcome each challenge. Besides, my son knows he's special to his family, and is very special to God. His sparkling green eyes, sincere laugh out loud, and great smile make each day a blessing to be with him.
Posted: March 12, 2011 at 7:39 PM
Photo of Katie B.
Katie B.
I have special needs and I was a very happy little girl myself. It's true what you said in the article, I didn't know I had a disability. I knew I was different from my 2 sisters but my CP didn't stop me from being a kid. My mom was very strong and felt that I could do whatever my sisters were doing and never held me back!! Owe the world to my mom for not giving up on me. I can talk and walk but walking and some other things like running were hard cuz the CP affected my legs only. I am now 31yrs old living on my own now & have a nanny job.
Posted: March 11, 2011 at 5:21 PM
Photo of Alice B.
Alice B.
Sounds like he has a warm and accepting parent, the most essential part of being successful as a special=needs kid: one stable, caring parent.
thanks
Posted: March 09, 2011 at 3:59 PM
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