By Kodey Toney
I Wish I Were Special
This weekend I was away at training and Jennifer posted a conversation on Facebook between her and our youngest son Kruz. After inquiring about why he didn’t have an IEP, Jen asked him if he knew what and IEP was. He didn’t, but after a brief explanation he said, “For kids with ‘special abilities’ like Konner?” That was a proud moment for us as parents. It’s the perfect way to explain things. The way he sees his brother is the way I wish society would see him, and all people with special abilities.
This coincided with the training I was attending at the time. We were discussing the difference between micro and macro change. Micro is the change within the person while the macro is a change with society.
While it may seem easier to change one person, the person with a disability, that is not the truth. It would be much easier to change the perception of the world as a whole than to change the child. If we can change this then it will be better in the long run.
Many of you may be asking, “Is this guy crazy?” The answer is, probably so, but let me explain.
Perception is the only truly disabling factor of my child’s life. The real question should be this; how do you see my son, or someone with a disability? Do you see them as a problem or do you see yourself as a solution? Do you see their diagnosis as hindrance or a burden to your everyday life? Is the fact that you have to change your everyday routine to accommodate his issues a problem for you, or is it something that you find happiness in because you understand that you are helping him to achieve a better and more successful life? Do you think, “This is something that will help him, and in turn help others in the future?”
The Problem is not the person with a disability, but the assumptions we as a society have about his disability. That same old, “here’s his label…oh here’s what he can’t do,” mentality.
You see, Konner has autism. That is not going to change. That is his special ability. No amount of pushing, medication, therapies, or wishing will change that fact. He will have autism for the rest of his life. He’s not going to outgrow it, get over it, or snap out of it. It’s a part of who he is, and always will be.
However, with your help, he will learn to cope and tolerate the symptoms. He will learn to become more comfortable in the classroom setting, in school, in a work space eventually, and in society. He may even learn to accept the ignorance and stigma against him.
You may see me as a pushy parent. I may see you as a person that doesn’t want to help. You may see my child as a burden. What we should do is look past all of that to see what we can do to help the child.
Author Margaret Wheatly said, “It’s not differences that divide us. It’s our judgements about each other that do.”
You can be part of the solution or part of the problem. Until we change society’s views of people we will never truly make a difference. If you are reading this, the solution starts with you. I challenge you to make a change today. Change the way you see people. Instead of saying, “Oh that person can’t do this,” ask yourself and perhaps the person, “What can you do?” “What do you like to do?” “What are you good at doing?”
At six-years old, Kruz gets it.