Please, stop staring—my son is not a freak. He is just a kid, even if he has some challenges your child doesn't. He may not notice you are staring, but I do, and it makes me uncomfortable and, at times, sad. Someday, my son may very well notice the stares, and the last thing I want is for him to feel like an outsider in this world. He already has enough adversity to overcome. Treat him as you would any kid: say hello, joke with him, ask what his favorite color or food is. Do anything but stare. Please, don't stare.
That is one of the key things I'd like people to know when it comes to Max. He's 8 and has cerebral palsy, for those of you who are new here; as a result, he can sound like a deaf person when he says words, and sometimes he drools. The staring, which happens all the time, drives me BATTY. "Is something wrong?" I'll ask, and then the person will usually catch himself and look away. Parents, strangers, neighbors—I don't care who's doing the staring, I notice. Kids who stare can get to me too, but they don't know any better. They're curious; they want to know why Max doesn't talk like they do. Adults may be curious too, but they should know better than to blatantly gawk.
I've been talking about this with my friend Jill over at Scary Mommy. Like me, she's working with P&G on coverage of the Special Olympics. Given that they're the Proud Sponsor of Moms, I wanted to amp up my mom pride about Max and other kids with special needs. So Jill and I cooked up an idea: I'd ask all of you to share your thoughts on what you want you've always wanted to say to parents of so-called "typical" kids (if you ask Jill, her three non-disabled kids are anything but typical).
Meanwhile, Jill would do a post asking her readers to share questions they have about kids with special needs. She'll send her readers over here to read what you've said. We can all head over there to answer their questions. Hearts will be opened. Opinions shared. Awareness raised. Good, right?
I know you guys have a whole lot to say, so let's get the conversation started: From the bottom of your hearts, your brains, your souls: What would you like parents of typical kids to know about children with special needs?
This is the fourth in a series of posts sponsored by P&G, for whom I'm covering The Special Olympics; they're a sponsor! "Like" their Thank You, Mom Facebook page and they'll donate $1 toward Special Olympic Team USA's journey to the World Summer Olympic Games in Athens.