As parents of children with disabilities, many times we are asked questions, or comments are made to us that, although mostly not ill-intended, have the potential to cause us great hurt.
At a recent "Imas United/Tafkid" meeting (parent to parent support group) the mothers wrote down some of the questions and comments they've encountered, as well as some possible ways they may be answered.
Here is a sampling of them and how they may be answered.
How Could You Bring This Child Home?
Answer: This child is a "matonoh" (gift) from Hakodosh Baruch Hu. If a king gives you a present you accept it; if the King of all Kings gives you a present you accept it b'ahava.
How Will You Ever Find A Shidduch For Your Other Children?
Answer: From the experience of having a brother/sister with special needs, my other children's middos and overall character will be refined and enhanced. Whoever marries them will be very fortunate.
What Do I Say To My Children When They Say To Me-"IMMA," When My Friends Come Over And My Brother Acts 'Stupid' Or Says Something 'Stupid', How Should I Explain Him To Them? What Should I Say Is Wrong With Him?
Answer: He was born this way. Just like a blind person can't see and a deaf person can't hear, he also has special challenges because he can't learn as quickly as we can.
I Was Sitting On A Bus With My Daughter, Who Has Casts On Both Feet. Two Ladies Behind Me Were Arguing As To What Horrible Thing I Must Have Done To My Child.
Answer: I just turned around and told them point blank that I broke her feet-they looked at me with open mouths and said nothing. In retrospect, I would also have asked them to direct their questions to me directly and not to talk behind my back.
When Passing Through The Metal Detector At An Airport With My Down Syndrome Son, The Man Turned To Me And Asked, "Is He A Mongol?"
Answer: I re;olied, "No, he is an American!"
A Physical Therapist Once Told Me That My Child Is A 24/7 Child (24 hours, 7 days a week) And His Needs Would Best Be Met In An Institution.
Answer: He is a 24/7 child-He needs love 24 hours per day, 7 days a week and that's what we give him!
How Old Is Your Son? "Five." So How Come He Doesn't Wear A Kippa (Yarmulka)?
Answer: Because velcro doesn't work!
This Is A Question I Have Asked When I Was With My Son And Noticed Someone Staring In A Very Obvious Way.
Answer: "Can I help you? What are you looking at?"
I Don't Know How You Do It; I Could Never Do What You're Doing!
Answer: We each receive a different TAFKID in life. We don't always realize the strength we have inside to handle our nisyonos. Hashem knows we have the strength even when we don't know.
This article first appeared in issue #2 of Down Syndrome Amongst Us