Today I would ask you to go to this blog: Chewing The Fat and read about Brent Martin. Then come back because I have something to ask of you.
Because I am homebound with Parker wearing a black armband won’t garner the attention that Mr. Hingsburger is looking for. But I simply can’t allow this story to go without doing something.
We are living in a time when disabilities are becoming more mainstream. Gone are the days when a parent of a child with an intellectual disability automatically drops off their newborn to be raised in an institution. This could be, in part, that due to the advancement of earlier and earlier prenatal testing, many children are being ripped from the womb before having the opportunity of being born.
But I believe it is more than that. I believe that slowly, painfully, and with the courage of those who have gone before us, parents of children with intellectual disabilities are becoming both advocates and educators. They see the worth in the lives of their children and they want others to see and value that worth as well.
I watch as new parents of a child with Down syndrome look with wonder at a child whose diagnosis at first brought such an assortment of mixed emotions now express what an absolute delight that child is. How much like every other child he is. And those same parents wish that they would have known then what they know now.
And they want others to know what they know.
They want the world to be as accepting of a child with an extra chromosome as of a child with the typical number. They want to build a bridge over that chasm of fear, unease and even hatred that differences tend to create.
But they know they can’t do it alone.
So I am going to ask those of you that read Parker’s blog to do a little something in remembrance of Brent. I’m going to ask you to make the decision now to be an advocate for those with disabilities. I am going to ask for you to advocate by example. I am going to ask that you do this with respect, an open heart and with the words from the Golden Rule as your guide.
Is there a person in your neighborhood with a disability? What about in your child’s classroom? Have you spoken with your children about those with disabilities? Have you talked about ways to include those with needs that may differ from yours?
One thing that I can promise you. Your children watch how you interact with those with special needs. If you are uncomfortable or tend to look the other way, they will too. If you make an effort to be welcoming, make it known that you support inclusion within all areas of society, this too will be the road your children will take.
Make sure your kids have opportunities to interact with those who may be different. If opportunities don’t present themselves naturally, create them. Yes, it may take a little more effort on your part. But it will pay off by making the world a much better place. Your life and your child’s life will be much richer for these experiences.
Because, if you really think about it, we all get by with a little help from our friends.
Each and every single one of us.