We are often labeled as “oversensitive.” We are blamed for being offended too easily.
We’re just a little “touchy.” We’re even referred to as “crazy parents” at times.
We are parents of children with special needs.
We wear our hearts on the outside of our bodies. As for myself, my sensitivity level is most definitely heightened. I can certainly agree that when it comes to my children, I don’t back down and I proudly claim the title of Hypersensitive Mom. With good reason.
While out shopping recently, I overheard someone teasingly call another human being the “R Word.”
Without warning, the same reaction I feel every time I hear THAT word was elicited. I could literally feel my face turn bright red, a lump formed in my throat, while the blood in my veins began to boil.
Sadly, this happens more often than you would think.
In the world of social media, I’ve lost respect for many people over their use of THAT word. I’ve even unfriended a handful for their sharing of internet memes that included the words “short bus.”
These terms personally hit me like an unexpected sucker punch, every single time I encounter them. They hurt me to my core.
Shamefully, in my younger days, I know I would’ve playfully used such terms…cluelessly unaware of the implications. Back then, I was without a grasp of the impact of such hurtful carelessness.
Those days are so very far behind me now. I am thankful that I have evolved, and I know better.
If you ever wonder why we take such offense and are ultra-sensitive to this, the reasons are quite simple.
We’ve had to endure listening to medical professionals tell us that our children are “incompatible with life.”
In learning of our children’s diagnoses, we have had the words “severe”, “profound”, “limited independence” and “intellectual and physical disability” spoken to us.
We’ve stayed awake all night, with tear-soaked cheeks, reading literature about our own children’s disorders that includes that outdated and abrasive “R Word.”
Our lives are filled with medical equipment, therapies, communication devices, special healthcare needs and medications.
We’ve collectively experienced worries, fears and a roller coaster of emotions that most can’t quite fathom.
Unless you live this life too, you can’t truly comprehend the constant fight we must put up for our precious children.
We go to battle for them on every front: school supports, healthcare, insurance, and inclusion. The list is unending.
The wars that we wage are just part of the territory; part of the job of being a parent of a child with special needs.
The idea of anyone mocking what these amazing individuals go through, finding anything humorous in disability, not only fuels our fire…It breaks our hearts.
As an advocate for my own children and for children everywhere, I implore others to simply BE KIND.
Before making seemingly harmless jokes, sharing those seemingly innocuous posts on social media, or using harsh, ancient vocabulary that was once used to describe those with disabilities, THINK.
Words can wound. Deeply.
Even though you may think to yourself, “I didn’t mean it THAT way…” Please, choose more wisely.
As a special needs parent, I will forever be oversensitive, with a changed heart.
Always. And very rightly so.