Wednesday, May 18, 2011

PLAYING THE DISABILITY CARD





Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV)



I admit it.  There are times when our kids' special needs are useful, and there are times when they are not.  We want our kids to live a full, productive, happy life like anyone else.  And yet, there are times when we could take advantage of some aid or would like some perks that we joke about "playing the hemophilia card".  Crass, to be sure, but common.


It's ironic.  We spend from little on trying to assimilate our kids into the general population.  We strive desperately for inclusion.  We pour ourselves into teaching them life skills, appropriate behaviors, responsibility, persistence and triumphing over their challenges with a positive outlook.  But then we see an opportunity to acquire some free tchotchkes or perks on flights or at restaurants, and our child's disability suddenly appears front-and-center.  We teach them the eternal vision of heaven, but then try to enforce equity through an attitude of entitlement here on earth.


Am I making you uncomfortable?  Is this conversation taboo?  That is not the point of it.


You see, I think that we need to come to terms with the fact that our children with special needs are different.  We need to grieve appropriately, but then realize those differences are merely tools in the hands of a faithful God.  Yes, they have feelings, emotions, abilities and goals just like every other child.  But we need to accept their differences and adjust accordingly.  Then we need to surrender to using these challenges to glorify our Maker in every way possible.


In addition, we need to deeply examine our own consciences before God when it comes to making accommodations or receiving assistance for those children.  I've had other parents tell me, "Go ahead and take the aid!  You're who it's meant for!"  But what if I can afford to send my own child to camp?  Shouldn't I rightly pay my share and leave that money for a family who more desperately needs it?  Do I really need to go to the front of the line at the amusement park or do I merely feel I'm entitled?  When I am not humble in such matters, I give those who are truly in need a bad name.


Controversial and weighty, this query cannot be solved in one brief blog post.  These are questions we continually need to be searching out in our own hearts and minds.  We can only come to the ultimate truth if we make daily time to spend in God's Word.  When we do so, not only do we learn what the Lord expects of us, but we are blessed by the only book that reads us as we read it!  Spend some time reflecting on this today, and use it to help make you the kind of special need parent that God intended you to be.

8 comments:

  1. Amen...I struggle with this daily as to whether we should "use" the handicapped placard when the daughter "thinks" she can handle the walk from the car to the store and all over the store. Most of the time I don't, but there are those days...and yes I do get nasty stares, but when my child gets out of the car and needs my hand or her walker to help her walk...those nasty stares become ones of sympathy. I am not sure which I dislike worse. This is a tough subject to write about, but I commend you for tackling it! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love this post. I am going to share it on my FB page.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great topic! I've struggled with this in the past. When our son with autism was younger and had more behavior issues, we used the disability card more often. But around age nine, he started developing an awareness of how he was feeling and when he needed breaks. This made a huge difference. He's been much calmer for the past two years. I love that he can express his limits. Now we only use 'the disability card' when he's pushed himself too long without a break and needs to leave somewhere quickly.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh! I meant to tell you that I found your blog from a Retweet on Twitter. So glad!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love all of your responses! Yes, our youngest got to a point of awareness where she began declaring, "I have a disability," when her behaviors were inappropriate at school. Her intervention specialist reminded her, "Yes, you have a disability, but you don't have an excuse!" I loved how this woman worked on this issue with us!

    ReplyDelete
  6. We have a severely handicapped daughter, and I like what you said about using aid when it is needed. We are not in a great place financially so we are always looking for help, HOWEVER, when God provides you can bet I don't try to take more than what I know what we need. There is always someone who needs it more than us, and although taking advantage of the aid is within our rights, I would never want to abuse it. Good post.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am so blessed that you posted this. It makes me happy when people are reminded about God's glory. I have 3 children with special needs, lots of disabilities represent. Plus I have several issues coming into the picture. Most aid we get, is much needed here. Not a lot of family support, or help. I use our respite, we love our respite nurse, she's like part of the family.....Grandma Peggy. We do go to the front of the lines at amusement parks. If we didn't, we wouldn't be able to go to that amusement park. I have only used a handicap placard for a small amount of time, when my youngest was on oxygen. He was an infant and that tank was huge. We are one of those families that "need" the aides whenever possible. Even camps....would love to send my kids, but everything x3 is like a house payment. I don't feel we are entitled to any of it. We seriously depend on our aides, to function, sometimes on a daily basis.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm reminded of being a camp counsellor in high school for a bunch of 4th graders. The school nurse (whom I'd known since I was 5) pulled me aside and warned me about one of my charges, with the statement that she trusted I wouldn't let the girl get away with things, and to make sure she got her meds on time in the mornings.

    Our first dinner together was our first challenge. "I don't have to sit for dinner, my mommy said I have ADHD and that means I can't sit still."

    Oh my. Enablement much? Even then, I knew enough to know that there was a difference betweeen can't and won't, and this was definitely testing behavior. We worked it out though, and had a great week....which included sitting at every meal.

    Our biggest perk with my son was the year and a half that we had a handicapped parking permit. We still rarely used it....other than trips to one of the hospitals we deal with, where it cut the valet parking rate down to the self-park rate. Their parking garage sucked, and even worse was dragging a ventilator and oxygen through the garage, down the elevator, across the tunnel, up the elevator, through the lobby, and then to the elevator to the doctors' offices.

    ReplyDelete