Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Parents of kids with special needs have a dream

On Martin Luther King Day, at dusk, families around our neighborhood set out lit candles in paper bags on our walkways as a sign of unity and community. It was a beautiful sight. The kids and I talked about how he peacefully fought to change laws so black people would be treated equally.

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.


  1. My Dream: No more division or antagonism due to functioning ability

  2. What I have needed as a special needs parent is to feel as if someone understands. As I read this post, I knew that you understand the things that I feel and the things that I can't change. Thank you so much for sharing and helping me to not feel so alone in this world.

  3. Yes. Totally Yes. Although I am a person with a disablity. As always you are point on. We are people just like you. Treat us as such.

  4. As the parent of a newly adult young man with Aspergers this totally resonates. What will he be able to do? Where can he work? He's so capable, so intelligent and so, SO misunderstood. We survived his childhood, what next? From the 1st snide comment from another parent when he was two, (about his hyperactivity) to being asked (forced actually) to leave school for TURNING IN someone Else's knife, where oh where can my boy belong? Who will accept him? Well said, and timely post. Thank you.

  5. First of all, it is so cool, your neighborhood did this. I have a daughter who is black and another who is biracial(through foster care adoption-ages 4 and 7) so this hits home. Plus both have special needs- the 4 year old has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which includes severe developmental delays(brain injury), seizures, and nerve hypoplasia while the 7 year old has severe hearing loss. I saw Selma with my big kids(13 and 15) and wow. What a good, sad movie. We also saw American Sniper.


Thanks for sharing!

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