I think most adults are terrified of the moment when their child starts noticing differences and then promptly points them out (very, very loudly) or asks questions about them. The general feeling within the accessibility community is actually that your child should ask questions in order to learn and that adults should model how we can ask questions and gain new understandings in a respectful manner.
I completely understand the wonderment of kids; everything is so brand new to them. However, what I don’t really understand are the adults who stop me, point at my child and ask, “What’s wrong with her?” I can assure you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with my daughter, you, on the other hand, I couldn’t say.
I have heard for years that so many assume that a wheelchair automatically means a cognitive or developmental delay as well, and, unfortunately I see how early that assumption is made and how my daughter, at only five years old, is already battling stereotypes. Ella is not cognitively or developmentally delayed in any way; she is bright among her many attributes, so she understands exactly what people are saying, and exactly what my response is. So, while I want to tell people off through sobs of anger, frustration, and sadness, instead I respond after a beat, “Absolutely nothing, but she does have Cerebral Palsy.” I have had to say this to ten different people in the last two weeks, Ella will most likely be saying it her whole life, and soon Braeden and Raegan will be saying it as well.
It has always saddened me that people will see her chair first or ask, “but will she ever walk?” when Ella is this hilarious, sassy, empathetic, and brave girl. Friday she performed in her class play, nailing her delivery with enthusiasm and I can honestly see her entering the world of entertainment as she loves performing and making people smile. She is a superstar, as are Braeden and Raegan in their own ways as well.
Let me assure the world again how there is nothing wrong with our family; we march to the beat of our own drum, while also singing loudly and inventing our own games. We are a bit wild and nutty, but my kids will always have each other’s backs and when tested, the mama bear will come out and I will protect those monkeys no matter what, cause my kids sassiness didn’t just come from nowhere.