Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Refined by fire

Somehow, during my growing up years, I learned exactly how to deal with people who are disabled:  treat them as normally as you can while ignoring any obvious disabilities.  And if you can't treat them normally for some reason, then ignore them altogether. 

Pretend the child with autism throwing a fit at the store isn't being loud or that kicking and screaming is perfectly normal.

Pretend the wheelchair isn't there.

Pretend no one is drooling.


I've only been Cade's mom for 4 months, but he's teaching me so much already.  Before Cade, I'd have said that the way I dealt with disabilities was fine.  Admirable, even.  But after Cade, I know that I've missed seeing the real person behind the disability.  The person who deserves the dignity of a real response.  The person who deserves real respect, even though they're in a wheelchair, or screaming, or drooling, or have almond shaped eyes. 

It sorrows my heart to realize that all these years, I've been prejudiced against those with disabilities.  Not intentionally, of course, but prejudiced just the same. 

Now, when I see someone with a disability, I look them in the eye.  I smile.  And when appropriate, I interact.  I ask real questions and wait for the answer.  I'm still learning, but then, I've only been Cade's mom for 4 months.