spread the word to end the word: a mama bear post

Ohmygosh, Tru looks so little here! I wrote this post two years ago, but I’m sharing it here in honor of Spread the Word to End the Word Day. The campaign aims to end the use of the word retarded. And while we’re at it, can we just altogether stop poking fun at those with special needs? Here’s what prompted me to share from the heart…

___________________________________

Last week, I attended a meeting with a roomful of parents, all whom have kids with special needs. I didn’t want to be there. Nobody wants to be in that conference room. We’re insanely grateful for the resources and support, but we wish we didn’t need it.

Nobody ever starts a family thinking this will be part of the journey. This happens toother families, we tell ourselves. And because of that naiveté, I wasn’t always as compassionate as I should have been towards families walking this crooked path. I’m so embarrassed to admit that there was a time when I’d laugh at friends who used self-deprecating humor like “I’m such a retard!” or “what are you, slow!?” I might have even uttered that stuff myself. I didn’t think about how those wise {or not so wise} cracks furthered the prejudices against special needs kids and adults who cannot help the way they were born.

I don’t write a lot here about Truman’s specific needs; I think this was the last time. He is so much more than the labels put on him. I want him to be known for his contagious joy, for his growing brilliance, for his love of people and music and   trees and lights and puppies and babies and books and snuggles. I want you and everyone he meets to know all of this about him. Why? Because people make fun of what and who theydon’t know. But they think twice about doing so when they have a relationship with or affection for someone who’s the butt of a joke.

I believe connection breeds compassion.

If your beloved friends and colleagues come from different ethnic or spiritual backgrounds, you’re less likely to utter a racial or religious slur. If one of your favorite neighbors is lesbian, you’re less likely to criticize something by calling it “gay.” But it’s less likely you have regular interactions with someone who has special needs, which makes these innocents much easier to mock.

Last week, someone I know {though not well} posted a Facebook photo of himself with a befuddled, dorky look on his face, standing next to a sign that says “Special Needs Entrance.” When I skimmed the comment section below his picture, each “like” and “LOL” from his Facebook friends felt like daggers to the heart. It angers me to think that, years ago, I might have laughed at that kind of humor. And it saddens me to know that brand of ignorance continues.

Some of you might think I need to just relax or lighten up. But that’s not the nature of a mama bear like me. We moms {and dads, too} try to protect our cubs to no end – from cruelty, from prejudice, from harm. I pray Tru will never feel ostracized or ridiculed for being a little different. He is pure sunshine – and I’ll do my best to keep anyone or any joke from dimming his light, directly or indirectly.

By virtue of reading this, you are connected to me – and I’m so glad. My hope is that the next time you feel compelled to make fun of a disability or laugh at an insensitive joke, you’ll think of me…and then you’ll think of Tru…and maybe you’ll change your mind. And, in that act of kindness, you’ll change others’ minds, too.

4 Awesome Videos to Make Your Season Bright

Four Awesome Videos To Make Your Season Bright

I am such a sucker for inspiring videos; I love being catapulted into elation while I sit here in my jammies! You, too? Yesterday, I was all teary watching several videos posted to Facebook. As I was watching them, my little angel Tru said HE wanted to make a video.

This boy has adored the song Angels We Have Heard on High for as long as we can remember, so I asked him if he wanted to sing it to my camera. As many of you know, Truman’s on the autism spectrum; repetition, movement and music are soothing and so joyful for him. Watching him and listening to him sing this song he loves just fills my heart and I thought it might do the same for yours. My favorite part? Where, instead of saying “Christ the Lord” he says “Price the Log.” LOL!

So, I’m happy to share his video with you…and three others that have touched my heart this week.

Angels We Have Heard on High…by 5 Year Old Tru 🙂

Awww…the bowing at the end just slays me. Love that little guy. Okay, moving on to the other three heart-stirring videos…

Flash Mob for Nelson Mandela


This is a flash mob by the Soweto Gospel Choir, staged at a Woolworth’s store in South Africa after Nelson Mandela’s passing. When they raise their hands in the air? Yeah, I lost it then.

Airline Teams Up With Santa To Surprise Passengers

This is a marketing stunt by WestJet Airlines, but a brilliant one. I was all teary when the packages started arriving. What a joy to watch people so stunned by this act of kindness!

The Tutu Project

When his wife got cancer, this hubby tried to cheer her up with a tutu. And now that tutu is cheering up and cheering on other cancer patients, too. Amazing.

Got any other faves? Feel free to share links below!

give candy, give LOVE. pass it on…

Truman and his daddy last Halloween

This is making the rounds on Facebook and no one seems to know the original source. But it’s such an important message, I couldn’t resist sharing…

In a few days, a lot of creatures will visit your door. Be open minded. The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy might have poor fine motor skills. The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy might have motor planning issues. The child who does not say “trick or treat” or “thank you” might be painfully shy, non-verbal, or selectively mute. If you cannot understand their words, they may struggle with developmental apraxia of speech. They are thankful in their hearts and minds. The child who looks disappointed when he sees your bowl might have a life-threatening allergy. The child who isn’t wearing a costume at all might have SPD or autism. Be kind, be patient, smile, pretend you understand. It’s everyone’s Halloween. Make a parent feel good by making a big deal of their special child. ♥

Reading this made my heart ache a little for Tru and all the other kiddos for whom tonight will be both wonderful and overwhelming. And for all the parents doing our best to help them feel confident and safe. There is no way to predict how the night will go for these tiny superheroes. Tru, who is over-the-moon about being a fire fighter, might breeze through it {fingers crossed}. Or…an unfamiliar noise or gruff person or too-heavy candy bag or scratchy tag on his costume could be too much for him to process. We won’t know till we’re in it.

And so, this reminder to be kind-hearted and open-minded to all of our kids – especially those for whom tonight will be a big, brave undertaking – touched my heart. I hope it touches yours, too. Wishing you a happy Halloween.