Prejudice is not exclusive to race, ethnicity, or national origin. It also encompasses disabilities.
Be honest, you've done it. Cringed at the family with a child who had downs-syndrome when they sat next to your table in the restaurant Gawked at the blind man in the doctor' s office waiting room. Squirmed when a lady with a facial deformity smiled at you in the mall. Maybe it was the rowdy child with ADHD that dodged between your legs at the town park.
It's one thing to have prejudice, yet another to discriminate. We all have prejudices. Some may be extreme and others minor annoyances like the ones listed previously.
For a few years, we lived next to a little boy who had ADHD, along with other problems, including parental neglect. He was an adorable little cherub with very mischievous behavior. He was often home alone, while his mother kept a bar stool warm somewhere in the next county. Our family reached out to him. He could get rambunctious and annoying at times, but we never lost our tempers with him.
When he was home alone and there was a loud thunderstorm, there would be a knock on our front door from this little boy who had no power at home and didn't want to sit alone in the dark. Another time, he would sit on the front porch swing for hours, just talking, with my oldest daughter. He dined with us on numerous occasions because his refrigerator was empty. Inside our home, he was respectable, fun, and a sweet little boy to have around.
Outside our home, he spent time in detention at school, ran from neighbors homes after ringing their doorbells, caused trouble in the neighborhood, and eventually wound up in jail for a year.
We could have looked down our noses at this boy, slammed our door in his face when he came over looking for food or companionship, lectured him on how to behave.
We did none of the above.
We welcomed him into our home and sometimes took him with us when we went on a family outing. We did our best to show love to this little guy. (Our house was the one on the block that didn't get shaving cream on Halloween or phantom doorbell ringing)
Raising a son who has not only diabetes, but ADHD is a challenge. We do our best with what God has given us to deal with. We have good days and bad.
Let me give you a picture of what a day can look like in our shoes.
Blood sugar check, carb counting, insulin shot, breakfast...oops, he doesn't want to eat that? How do we make up the carbs so he doesn't have a hypoglycemic episode, get Sawyer off on the bus, get a call from the school nurse because Sawyer is having an episode, get a call from the principal for Saywer's behavior, get a call from Sawyer's teacher, run to the store for snacks and run them to the school nurse so Sawyer has his snacks, Sawyer comes home without his daily blood glucose report from the nurse, Sawyer has destroyed his pants and needs changed, Sawyer is being noisy...and on....and on.
So, by the time I get to the store, school, mall, church, neighbors house, friends & relatives, I really don't need additional attitude from someone who thinks I'm not handling Sawyer correctly. I invite anyone who thinks they have a better handle on disciplining children with dual disabilities to offer a hand, not a sneer. I am dealing as best I can with what God has dealt.
Next time a mother is juggling a hard-to-handle child, a look of utter exasperation on her face, look beyond the tousled hair, the frazzled expression, and the dark circles under her eyes. Imagine what she might have gone through BEFORE she crossed your path.
Offer her a smile or a kind word. She's doing the best she can and she deserves your encouragement.
Our society has come a long way with many prejudices but still has a few hurdles to overcome.
I was watching an old Andy Griffith episode the other day when Ellie wanted to run for town council. This had the men of the town in an uproar. Look how far we've come since those days. In 2008, we came closer to having a woman president than we ever have. In fact, we have a president who has African-American heritage. That's progress.
We have made great strides to integrate those with disabilities into main-stream society. That doesn't mean everyone will be accepting. I know from personal experience that children like my son make teachers cringe when they see them coming.
"But for the grace of God, there go I."
Something to think about the next time that difficult child crosses your path. You may have to deal with that child for an hour or two, but the parents wake up everyday to deal with their disabilities.
Don't sneer. Offer some cheer :D
**Photos courtesy of Articles.mibba.com and Critterscrap.blogspot.com**
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