Lately I've been seeing a graphic on Facebook, one of those "Let's see if you're a good enough person to share this" jobs, that's about children with special needs. Maybe you've seen it too. I refuse to re-post this sort of thing on Facebook because of a deep-seated resistance to chain letters and their ilk, but I'll share the text here to defend the quality of my heart:
KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS ARE NOT WEIRD OR ODD. THEY ONLY WANT WHAT EVERYONE ELSE WANTS...TO BE ACCEPTED. CAN I MAKE A REQUEST? IS ANYONE WILLING TO POST THIS IN HONOR OF ALL CHILDREN WHO WERE MADE IN A UNIQUE WAY? LET'S SEE WHO HAS A STRONG HEART.Now, the friends whose walls I've seen this on are kind people, are strong-hearted, are parents of kids with special needs themselves in some cases, and mean nothing but good by posting this. I get that. Certainly any show of goodwill is to be appreciated in an online world where commenters are more likely to wish our kids dead than wish them well.
And yet ... boy, you know, it's not enough, is it? I can't help but feel that it lets people off the hook in a way that I can't accept.
You want to honor all children with special needs? You want to show acceptance? Don't post those words on Facebook. Post them on your heart. Post them on your soul. Post them on your conscience. Post them on your reaction to a kid behaving inappropriately in a public place, or to a request to keep peanuts out of a public place for the safety of a child, or to an attempt at inclusion that maybe changes the way you're comfortable doing things.
Post those words on your language when you're tempted to use the R-word. Post them from your car when you bypass a handicapped space. Post them on your children when you refuse to be a bully on their behalf. Post them every time you're called upon to do something much more challenging and inconvenient and ambiguous to honor a child with special needs than just hitting a share button.
That's what makes your heart strong.
Next time that meme makes its way through your social media accounts, how about sharing this one instead?: