What is your natural reaction when you meet a Special Needs child?
Over the years, what I have observed and experienced is that when you meet Special Needs Children, either physically or mentally handicapped, our reaction often is not natural.
There is an element of “Pity”, “Sadness”, and at worst some people even feel “Helpless”, because they don’t quite know how to react.
Such was the case, when I took our daughter’s tutor Tanya to a Special Needs Children Halloween party, organised by a fantastic organisation called “PHAB” in Wimbledon.
At first she was reluctant and didn’t know what she would do there. She was clear that she was comfortable managing my little girl but not certain how she would be with other children.
I assured her that everyone attends the party with their parents or carers, so it is not something we need to worry about. Whilst a little apprehensive, she eventually joined us.
Just like any other Halloween party, the room was dimly lit, there was dance music playing and the walls were decorated with black and orange pumpkin themed ribbons. There was plenty of party food the organizers had also planned some fun activities for the kids and their guardians.
All the children were dressed in different fancy dress costumes – including a Scary Bride, a Pirate and even a Ballerina.
Tanya was impressed.
It was obvious that the children were making the most of it. There were couple of children there whom my little girl was familiar with. At first, she was a bit shy, yes people generally say if you are Autistic, you don’t have social context and you can’t express and/or understand emotions.
This is wrong because my little one does.
She started mingling with other children and joined with them playing party games.
While our little J was having a gala time, I spent some time with Tanya introducing her to other children and parents. Tanya readily mixed in and spent most of her time with our J. I noticed that she was more affectionate than usual towards J and a little extra careful. I am immensely grateful to have found her.
On our way back, Tanya told me that at the party she felt “sorry” for all the children and their families. She didn’t understand why there were such children. They all looked so nice, but had one or multiple difficulties.
She mentioned that there was one girl who had to change into a night dress during the party, as she was getting irritated with her party dress.
I told Tanya: “There is no need to feel sorry. Did you not see that all the children were happy? Being in the comfort of their own environment.
At times, it is a philosophical question we ask ourselves, and the one I have asked many times – why does God choose to create such children? Over time I have realized that, it is to make us more compassionate and may be even more patient.
It is natural for us to be judgemental (unless you practice it to be non-judgemental, I am trying).
At times it is second nature to compare our situation with other people’s situation. In Tanya’s case she was comparing her childhood, and how she was able to do so many things very freely, as compared to disabled children. There are times in our life it calls for none of this. We simply need to accept and love.
So, what is your natural reaction, when you meet a disabled child or their family?