Friday, October 9, 2015

Dear Parents of "Normal" Kids

This is a letter addressed to parents of "normal" kids. I felt compelled to write this letter after reading about the neighbors suing the parents of a boy with autism whom they felt was disrupting their community. Not only was the boy with autism a menace, he was inconveniencing the other children and their parents with his social behaviors or lack there of. The fact that it has resulted in legal action through our court systems truly (and unfortunately) represents the times in which we live. Do they have a right to protect their children? Yes! Was this the  right way to go about it?  I doubt it! But even more disturbing is the manner in which we go about our lives in this society unaffected by the world around us until a situation happens to us. I always ask the million dollar question, as I would to the neighbors in this community or the countless others whose comments and actions have been nothing short of irresponsible: what if it was your child? It is easy to scoff at the efforts of others when we are on the outside looking in. But what if one day your normal child became impaired due to an illness or accident completely out of his control. What if the word "disabled" became your reality and you had to spend every single day fighting for your child's right to be a child who just happened to face difficulties? Some would argue that they would handle things a certain way but you can never really know for sure until you've been dealt a hand that leaves you vulnerable. There is no parenting manual to tell parents of children with disabilities how they should manage in a world focused on perfection and normal. Maybe the parents of this particular boy could have done things differently, as hindsight is certainly 20/20; the same could be said for the neighbors who thought it was perfectly okay to create a safety plan for a child with a disability based on their inexperience with children with disabilities. But honestly, you do the best you can under the circumstances. This isn't to say that any child--with or without disabilities--has the right to harm anyone else; but to assume that these parents were not doing all that they could do to manage the situation isn't a fair assessment. Parents of any child do what they think is best and try to learn things along the way. The fact that these parents are willing to file a lawsuit indicates to me that if they did, in fact, face the reality of having a child with a disability, they would stop at nothing to see that their child was treated fairly...which is what they should want for other children as well.

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