I showed the kids the "I Have a Dream" speech King gave at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, reading parts of it out loud, and as always I was struck by its power and eloquence. King's words resonated on another level: Parents of kids with special needs advocate for equality, rights and respect, too. We have dreams, so many dreams, about how people will treat our children and the adults they will become.
We have a dream that one day, the world will not be divided into people who are physically "able" and those who are not.
We have a dream that someday people will understand that those with physical or cognitive differences are not lesser human beings.
We have a dream that one day people will stop pitying kids with disabilities. Our children are not tragedies or "Oh, you poor things." We love and care for them not because we are angels but because they are our children, as worthy of our love and care as any.
We have a dream that people will look past the speech differences, the limp, the flapping, the screeching, the wheelchair, the walker, the cerebral palsy/autism/Down syndrome and judge our children by their personalities and character, not their disabilities.
We have a dream that people will comprehend—truly comprehend—that children with disabilities can have a rich and enjoyable existence.
We have a dream that people will no longer exclude children with disabilities from activities, programs, camp or life in general.
We have a dream that one day, more children will welcome ones with disabilities and consider them their peers, although that will not happen unless parents talk to their kids about ones with special needs.
We have a dream that our children will find meaningful jobs, even though the unemployment rate for people with disability is grim. We know we will most likely be their best hope for finding work but still, we dream of resources and opportunities.
We have a dream that inclusion will become the rule, not the exception. And not "rule" as in laws against discrimination, which already exist, but that it will happen in an organic way.
We have a dream that people with disabilities will be treated—and respected—as equals.
Parents of kids with special needs have a dream.