Well Duhh!! Thursday, I hosted a playdate at the Dupage Children's Museum and it was a great time. The playdate was designed for families of Special Needs Children and friends to enjoy an evening out for fun, in a space that was inclusive but also accommodating to their needs. In addition to this, it was an opportunity for families to connect with other families.
As everyone knows, having a special needs child is never easy and most of us parents completely understand that. We don't expect handouts or the easy way out of situations however, we do look for just a little grace. I was speaking to a mom and she shared how she's completely offended when people say to her "You've got your hands full." My heart dropped. IT dropped because I completely understood why that phrase bothered her so much. As a mother with a special needs child, there are things we understand. We know our hands are full, we know we have a lot going on, we know there are certain triumphs that are expected to happen to an able bodied kid that our child may not experience most importantly though, we have feelings too.
When you approach a mom with a child with special needs, we understand your immediate reaction is "Wow you have your hands full." but try using a different set of words to begin a conversation, besides the obvious. Here are a couple ideas:
1. Would you like me to hold the door?
2. Don't say anything
3. Speak to the child as if they are human.
4. If you have advice on programs and events, share them with us.
5. Compliment the kid on their cool hair or clothes, they are like the rest of us, they enjoy a compliment.
6. Is there any way I can help to lighten your load.
7. How Old is (s)he
I am advocating for this mom because it happens a lot when people see me. They tell me they didn't invite me to something because they know I have a lot going on. I completely appreciate being considered but I'd like to make those judgement calls for myself. In addition to these situations, we are oftentimes left out of social circles because "We've got our hands full." Mama's, mothers and caregivers of children with special needs like to have fun too, we enjoy cocktails, Girls Night Out, Trips and all of those other things. While we may not be able to make it to all events, we have good intentions and due to out families dynamic, it may be difficult but we do try.
The next time you encounter a parent of a child with special, can you say a prayer for her. Pray for her strength, pray for her courage, pray for her health, pray for her finances, pray for her support system, pray for her spouse or significant other, pray for her child's health, pray for her other children, Just pray.
SPECIAL NEEDS PLAYDATE - REVIEW
The playdate was great. There were families in attendance whose children had various special needs. Special needs does not always mean physical or visual challenges. Sometimes, these challenges are within and its important that people understand. It was beautiful to speak to parents and receive feedback regarding this type of event. I hope families left feeling encouraged and hopeful.
Since the museum has a cafe, we ate dinner there and it was a great option because I didn't have to cook!
Below are sponsors. Thank you to all of you. This has been a rewarding experience.
SEASPAR - SEASPAR is recognized as a special recreation association by the Illinois Association of Park Districts and is an extension of the services of its twelve member entities. It is governed by a Board of Directors which represents each of these members.
Future Horizons - Future Horizons was created to meet the needs of teachers, therapists, and family members who face the challenge of autism. Our books, videos, and conferences bring you the most current information possible to aid in that challenge.Wayne Gilpin, FounderIt is our strong belief that every child and adult with autism can improve and contribute to the lives of those who love them and, just as importantly, contribute to society. We at Future Horizons pride ourselves in bringing to the mission not only a strong sense of professionalism, but one that is also based on personal relationships. All of us have family members or friends who are affected.
Aspire CoffeeWorks is a dynamic social enterprise between Aspire and Metropolis Coffee Company. Founded in 2009 the partnership combines the work of Aspire, a leader in providing bold and pioneering services to kids and adults with disabilities, with the craftsmanship of Metropolis Coffee Company, one of the nation’s top artisan, award-winning coffee roasters.