Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Feel Free to Stare

I'm going to go ahead and assume this might be controversial to some of you. In fact, many special needs bloggers have talked about how much they hate this.

For me, however, I invite you to stare. Stare at me, stare at my kid. Soak it all in.

You see, I think a lot is lost by not looking.

You might fail to notice Charlie's slightly pink cheeks.

You may not see his one, perfect dimple.

You wouldn't get to see the joy on his face when his favorite songs come on.

Or the blue of his eyes.

I really do believe that the only way people are going to get comfortable with the disabled is to experience them. Not everyone is going to have a disabled niece, cousin, or neighbor. I've missed too much in my desire to be polite. I've missed the real person that co-exists with disability.

I was struck by something Barbara at Therextras said months ago about Down Syndrome in the community. She related something that I guess I hadn't realized--parents and family members of people with DS actually had to work to integrate them into the community. I grew up with Corky and Life Goes On, so it's hard to imagine a time when people with Down Syndrome weren't a part of the community.

So go ahead--get an eyeful--because me and my disabled child aren't going anywhere and frankly, I'd like you to get used to the sight. Just do me a favor? If you're going to stare and try to figure out what the heck is going on with my kid, put a lovely look on your face. Smile. It's OK if it's fake, I'll take it. He's still a child, he doesn't need pity-face, or worse yet, disgust-face. I know we're not typical over here, but really, how can you resist those eyes?

Many thanks to Cristin who expressed a similar thought recently and made me realize that I'm not completely alone in this.