Blog Faith + Family

Sticks & Stones Can Break Our Bones, And Words Can Also Hurt Us: A Note To Adults Who Know Better

Raising Special Needs Children

I don’t usually make blog posts like this that come straight from the heart. Which got me thinking, I’d really like to start being more candid with you guys. It feels good. Will anyone read it? Who knows. Still feels good.

For a moment, I need to take a break from blogging about food and frugality, and talk about how annoyed I am today, and exactly what’s erking me.

I’m mad at adults who should know better.

In the past few weeks, I’ve heard adults throw around the terms, in jest, “short bus,” “retarded,” “special ed,” and more (you get the drift).

Shame on them.

And shame on me, because I used to be an adult who didn’t really think about it when other adults use those words. I didn’t use those words myself, and I knew they were wrong, but I really didn’t let it bother me, and I certainly didn’t speak up.

Until now.

Now I’m on the other side of the spectrum, and I see how terribly hurtful those labels are. And I’m so mad.

You see, our middle child, Adam, is developmentally delayed. He has speech delays, and he has functional communication delays. At 3 years old, he’s never been able to verbalize to us that he’s thirsty, hungry, tired, in pain, or any of the other feelings that most kids are able to communicate to their parents. He’s also never been able to say, “I love you,” and wasn’t able to call us “Mama” or “Daddy” until he was well past 2 years old, which is heartbreaking for a parent. On top of his delays, he’s also got some sensory processing issues that cause him to have sleep disruptions all night long (wanna talk about what ‘tired’ really feels like? I dare ya!), to flap his hands when he’s excited or nervous (which is actually pretty cute – people think he’s waving at them or doing “jazz hands”), to have severe aversions to most foods, to scream bloody murder when he hears violin music (I know…we don’t understand it either), and to have meltdowns in situations that most kids find normal. He’s unable to verbalize emotions, wants, or needs to us, and he spends a good part of the day crying, and sometimes screaming. This is our normal.

I’m leaving out the good stuff. And there’s lots and LOTS of good stuff…just so you know.

In the Fall, Adam will be starting a Special Education pre-school program where he will receive more therapy. We have already been so blessed to have been able to work with our Area Education Agency, and now the school system, over the last couple years to get Adam into an Early Intervention Program that can hopefully get our little guy on track and give him the skills he needs to get his needs met on his own and with our help. And he IS showing improvement, albeit slowly.

As lucky as I’m feeling these days, it comes with a degree of anger, resentment, and defensiveness. Especially when I hear adults, who know better, make off-color comments and use these terms such as “short bus,” “retarded,” and “special ed,” as “funny” insults. It’s not funny.

Because, when it comes right down to it, my son IS a “special ed” student in a wonderful special education program that we feel beyond blessed to be part of. Why do you find this funny?? What humor can you possibly see in this?? And, if I didn’t drive him to school everyday, he would, in fact, ride the “short bus,” in a special seat, with a harness that would keep him safe on the route to school. Yep, my little angel, my little 3 year old ray of sunshine IS a cute little special-ed, short-busser. It’s just a fact. And WHY is this funny to you??

When you say these juvenile things, you may not realize that you’re talking to the parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or teacher of an amazing Special Ed student who is a bright and wonderful blessing to them every single day. In my heart, I know that you most likely mean no harm, but YOU don’t realize that I secretly want to punch you in the gut and make you feel as sick as your comments just made me. However, I would never do that because I have class AND I’m not a violent person in real life (plus I’m a wimp and it wouldn’t hurt you anyway). Just sayin’.

So please just stop it. Stop with these words that you may have used back in 6th grade, and that weren’t even ok back then. Stop making the world a worse place with your words.

With nearly 6 million kids in the U.S. today now diagnosed with some form of disability*, chances are you’re going to hurt someone in the room deeply or piss someone off…perhaps multiple people, and you should really care about that.
And if you don’t care about that, then I hope it’s your boss that you accidentally offend. And I hope they fire you.

What do you think? Do you agree with me or do you want to tell me to lighten up? Let me know, below!

*Statistic Source: http://www.npr.org/2014/08/19/341674577/whats-behind-the-stark-rise-in-childrens-disabilities

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10 Thoughts to “Sticks & Stones Can Break Our Bones, And Words Can Also Hurt Us: A Note To Adults Who Know Better”

  1. sandie martin

    Well said lady….nobody knows until they are “blessed” with a special needs child..I would not give up our beautiful Kelsey for anything in the world..:)

    1. kellibrink

      Thank you so much, Sandie! “Blessed” is right! 🙂
      Kelli at Food, Wine & Poopy Diapers

  2. Liz

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you for sharing your heart! It amazes me how cold and heartless some people can be! Your son is precious and perfect just the way he is!! As a child therapist and now mother of 2 under 2, I’ve assisted my share of families but never fully grasped the difficulties of parenting until our oldest hit the wonderful season of “the two’s”…. I leave out the word “terrible” on purpose for the sake of speaking positive vibes lol. Best of luck! Thanks for the menu planning by the way, uber impressed with all you manage to accomplish!!

    1. kellibrink

      Wow, Liz! Thank you a million times over for the kind words! I really appreciate it! I’m so thankful for people like you in the world!! <3
      Kelli at Food, Wine & Poopy Diapers

  3. Whitney

    Working with the AEA and getting him in school is the best thing for little Adam 🙂

    1. kellibrink

      Thank you, Whitney! You’re an expert & I’m happy you agree! 🙂
      Kelli at Food, Wine & Poopy Diapers

  4. Maylene Anderson

    Kelly your blog is beautifully said .
    I so agree with what you say .
    I’ve known you for years and you are such a good person
    Think your Mom and Dad are pretty amazing also .
    I’m also disturbed about language people use in public A four letter word that people use so casually , that is disgusting and seems they can’t say anything without repeating it even if they say a few words .
    The name calling of others is heartless and shameful.

    1. kellibrink

      Thank you so much, Maylene! You are too sweet! 🙂
      Kelli at Food, Wine & Poopy Diapers

  5. kellibrink

    Thanks for the feedback, John – you’re totally right.
    Kelli at Food, Wine & Poopy Diapers

  6. John

    People don’t realize that what they’re saying may really hurt the people they’re talking to. We all need to be kinder. One love!

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