Normal vs ‘non-normal’
A ‘normal’ person goes to a grocery store and they walk down the aisle. They reach up, they squat down. They don’t need to ask for assistance. They just do it. We all know that they put the cheaper stuff further out of view and reach, but for most people, that’s not a problem.
A ‘normal’ person goes to JC Penney or Kohl’s (yeah baby I’m calling you out) and they move through the aisles. If they have a stroller that might pose a small problem. But in general, they hum to the music being played on the speakers and they shop.
A ‘normal’ person goes to a large event where there are masses of people and they walk, they eat, they chat. They are aware there are children there, and try to keep an open eye for children. Nothing hinders their movement.
A ‘normal’ person goes anywhere and no one bats an eye. Sure, there might be some scenarios where some look somewhat out-of-place, but in general it’s kind of same ol’ same ol’. Blending in with the crowd without having to worry.
A ‘normal’ unborn life is far, far more likely to have a fighting chance at life just by being born.
My daughter goes out and people stare. It doesn’t matter what she wears, it doesn’t matter what she does. Someone is going to stop and stare. Sometimes, as her mom, I get to see a couple of kids or a group of kids stare and then look at each other and whisper and laugh, then look back at her and then at each other and laugh some more.
My daughter goes to an event or attraction and is far more likely to become frustrated and mentally exhausted with what is going and will shut down. This obviously doesn’t help with the staring and the whispering and the laughing.
A person in a wheelchair goes to a department store and is barely able to navigate the aisles, so stays home and orders online. Sometimes, they have to order special things to help them reach and grab items on the top shelves so that they can be more self-sufficient.
A person with special needs goes to any event and will more than likely have to deal with the stares and people calling out words like “freak”, “retard” or “spaz”. They’re more likely to be taken advantage of and bullied.
People with Down Syndrome are far more likely to not even get to that point of existence since some 90% of unborn children with Down Syndrome are terminated and that spans the races. They rely on the voices of cognizant adults who understand that they aren’t ‘something’ to be feared to rally for them and teach others that they are just as worthy to have a chance to live as a ‘normal’ unborn child.
Keep calm, it’s cool – it’s all about awareness
I’m not mad at you, JC Penneys or Kohls. Nah, you’re blissfully ignorant of what others deal with and besides how much money might you really make off of people like us? Special needs kids don’t want to look cool, they’re not interested in being like others. Special needs adults don’t need to shop.
Fellow shoppers, fellow event attendees, you might kind of get it. Some of you might look out and see a person who reminds you of your aunt so and so who is wheelchair bound and then you happily go along your way to the booths of beer or falafel. It’s okay. It is hard to understand what it’s like to live someone else’s life when you’ve never been there and done it.
I’m not mad. I’m not outraged. I’m not asking for anything other than to grow the awareness of the differences.
It’s about the awareness, and growing understanding of the disparity between people who are more able than others. I mean, you would think that in the year 2014 I wouldn’t have to ‘splain this to people, but hey, no bigs, I do. And I’m okay with that.
I’m okay when I go to the store and realize that Penney’s and Kohl are in it for the profit and that grocery stores stock the less expensive stuff higher or lower but never within reach.
I’m okay when we try to make plans to go someplace like Greenfield Village or the Detroit Zoo and know that it’s too hard for Hannah to do so we just don’t go. She is capable enough to walk but that far of a walk would be too hard and bikes aren’t allowed so we just stay home and ride around the neighborhood-again.
I’m okay when other kids just stare at her trying to blend in because their exposure to individuals with disabilities is so limited.
I’m not so okay with the idea that people are so infatuated with the idea of perfection that never has and never will exist that they terminate the unborn lives of babies with differences.
Even less okay when I know that people are laughing at her despite how hard she might try to look ‘cool’ and wants to fit in. Yeah, those people I typically want to smack, but then I remind myself, they’re ignorant. They don’t get it. And then I take a big breath and look at Hannah and think of all the other kids like her.
But in the end, it’s still all cool. Why?
Because I know that as humans we are a work in progress. We are growing, hopefully with the ultimate goal of greater compassion. I see people all over who do at least kind of get it, even if they’ve never had to walk in Hannah’s shoes, or mine.
Like the people who helped to make it possible for my daughter Hannah to have a large tricycle just for people like her and gives her the wheels to move and go and do things it
would otherwise be difficult for her to get to. Now, if we can just find more places to take her on her bike…….