Special Needs People – Overcoming Disabilities

Our Goals Here On This Site

Our goals here are to broaden the spectrum of understanding and the need for ever-improving conditions for the lives of people with disabilities, our Special Needs People.

We will present important information about private, public, and governmental policies and benefits that will hopefully help these people to enjoy their lives more. We will help them to find funds for education, housing, transportation, proper medical care, and more.

In addition, we have found a need of people with disabilities which is not mentioned much and that we feel needs to be addressed. That need is that a hugely disproportionate number of people with disabilities become the victims of disasters of many kinds as compared to the general population. Clearly various government and private organizations need to step up to the line and take this issue more seriously.

We will, as always defend these Special Needs People  and help to protect their rights. We have a comment section below and would LOVE to hear your story.

The Webster’s Definition of Disabled People

Per Webster’s it means: Incapacitated by illness, injury, or wounds. I would argue that not all people with a disability are “incapacitated”, their disability just causes them to have to do things differently.

For example:

I am disabled when it comes to woodworking. I follow the rules: Measure it twice, cut it once. Sounds simple but I invariably measure it twice, cut it once, throw it away and repeat.

These were supposed to be beautiful end tables. I left while I was not injured…

My car was disabled in Cincinnati on a recent vacation.

No worry, dis take maybe 30 minutes, OK boss?

 Somehow this descriptive word “disabled” illustrates a lack of understanding in its impact on Special Needs People.

These precious people with disabilities are just like us. They have a multitude of human traits that define them as unique individuals. They think, they grow, they bleed when cut. They have families, they have ups and downs, they feel pain when they are injured or mistreated, and they have bad hair days just as we do. They are just people with some “Special Needs”.

Time to Connect

I would like  to just run through some thoughts and experiences with my special friends so that you will develop a greater understanding of who we are talking about.

First, just think about the disabled friend or relative you know best. Do they have feelings, dreams, desires, goals just like those of us who are blessed with good health? OF COURSE, THEY DO!

If you don’t have a special needs friend, go get one. YOU will be blessed. Treat them like normal. I have found, without exception that this is their preferred choice in interaction with you. Let’s dig into this a bit and see how we might kill two birds with one stone by understanding them better and understanding our reaction to them.

Are They Contagious?

Their conditions are  not contagious. The only thing “Contagious” about them is the invincible outlook they have on a life that has chosen them to carry some unusual and strenuous burdens.

They are often very lonely because we often act, either consciously or unconsciously, as if they are contagious. They have the same set of needs for human touch, thoughtfulness, love, friendship, and courtesy just like we all expect. 

   

  Not guilty you say?

Let me ask you this… when a person with a disability holds their hand out to shake yours, what is (hopefully, what was) your first internal reaction? Most people are worried a bit, especially by physical contact with them. You can admit this to yourself, even if you never gave it a conscious thought before. 

I had a mental “ouch” when I realized that I unconsciously did this. It was a personal fault of my own, due to lack of understanding and education about them until I was blessed with a special little boy who came into my life.  This little fellow was diagnosed with SMA (spinal muscle atrophy) and is paralyzed from the chest down. I always wondered how the parents of a child with a disability could say “we are just so blessed by…”. I found out through this little boy named David.

Adjust Your Visual Perception

I suggest that you try to look at them with a different perspective. Like the image to the right. Do you see a goblet or 2 faces? I am just trying to point out that we need to see what is really there.

People with a disability have all the same trials and tribulations you have. They live their lives with a physical burden that would bring tears to our eyes if we tried to envision ourselves or a loved one in this same situation. So, my recommendation for you is to not feel guilty. Just try to see them as “normal”.

Shake their hand, give them a hug. They will be thrilled to see the wall go down. They will be delighted to be treated normally. Oh yea, you will be delighted as well. You see they are not contagious physically, just spiritually.

My Friend Mike

I met Mike when an acquaintance of mine became his caregiver. Having no real contact or dealings with a person with a disability before this I wondered how she and so many other caregivers for Special Needs people, could handle this. It just has to be a trying and stressful job.

Do these disabled people feel strange to the touch? Are they able to think and feel as I do? The questions like these go on and on. Fortunately for us with normal health, most of the people with disabilities I know have a special skill set that is designed out of necessity to help them make us feel “OK” with them. Imagine that!

A Smile and Handshake

My friend Mike was my first real friend with disabilities. I met him when he was about 40. He was the victim of Polio at the age of 9. He would occasionally get that shallow smile and a faraway look in his eyes when he would talk about being able to walk and run like other children. Then he would do a little time travel through his early years but always quickly returned to the present, the place where he dwelt and had to work a lot harder than me to just get by.

He would always have a smile on his face. His hand was always out first. He never faltered in this. Our ease of interaction was because of HIS behavior, not mine. It was the stake in the ground so to speak marking the beginning of our friendship.

An Example of Their Goals

 

Mike was 

like most of the people with disabilities that I have come to know over the years: strong and persistent. His greatest goal was to become an attorney. He chose this so that he could help other People with Special Needs  by getting them the facilities and benefits they needed but  were often denied.

This is Mike when he bought me a sailplane ride

A simple ramp here and there for wheelchairs or an accessible fire escape designed for the capabilities of people with disabilities. 

For example, when Mike was taking the Arizona Bar exam, he was forced to use the restroom and because it was not set up for Special Needs People, his wheelchair became jammed in a stall. No one heard his shouts for help.

It wasn’t long before some thoughtful, caring individual who was administering the exam felt it necessary to disqualify Mike from finishing the exam. How wonderfully fair (tongue-in-cheek) the system was then.

Mike was undaunted by this. He had increasing health issues which prevented him from becoming an attorney, but he still became a pioneer in the country’s need to change the laws and provisions for Special Needs People.

He charged ahead in the quest to provide everything that he and others needed so that they all were safe and set free by a society that up to this time just wanted to keep the them in a dark room with the door closed. You see, it was easier for most people to deal with the people with disabilities if they didn’t see them or hear them, might less touch them or treat them with even a modicum of human respect. Thankfully, when Mike passed away, my journey was not done.

So Why did I tell you this? 

The simple answer is because YOU needed it. I needed this experience as well. You need to roll this around in your mind to get a good grip on it.

 

REDEMPTION – The action of saving or being saved from sin, error, mistake, or evil. 

 

A few years

 after my friend Mike passed away I was given another opportunity to reach into the world of people with disabilities. I married a sweet young lady who brought a surprise to me that has permanently changed my life for the better. This is when Little David and I became good friends. He is commonly known as Little David so that everyone can clearly define who they are talking about.

Little David took me under his wing, and just like my friend Mike did years earlier. Even though he was not aware of it, Little David began to knock down the remaining barriers that were keeping me from what seems to be God’s plan for my life.  What a wonderful gift! Almost immediately, the disability and the wheelchair disappeared. Only the person remained. 

Let’s Meet this SMA Kid!

Little David, like most children, has a heart made of gold. He laughs, plays as much as SMA allows. He cry’s when he is physically or spiritually hurt. You know, just like any other “normal” human.

Since my marriage to his mother and to this very day Little David (who I might add is not so little now at 16) has continued to amaze me with innate abilities to deal with his world just like Mike did.

Little David was my final proof that these people with disabilities are indeed special. He makes straight A’s in school, even in the advanced classes. He has the maturity and clarity of thought of a much older young man. He never gives up and always gives what I feel is a gargantuan effort to do the best he can in every situation. He is tough! 

David is fiercely competitive. He “rules” when playing in his on-line video games. I have asked his gaming buddies and they all verify that David is the most fierce competitor they know. 

If he can pick up a 5-pound weight, he always asks for the 6-pound weight. He always stretches the extra inch higher. To top it off he has a great personality and is polite and considerate to everyone he meets. He is always the first to help out.

David had 3 terrible surgeries – Things They Courageously Go Through

One to straighten out his legs. That required severing both femurs and having them straightened and anchored in place with hardware until the bones healed. He finally had the hardware removed and keeps them in a bag as trophy’s.

The next surgery was for scoliosis, another horrendous surgery where the surgeons lay open the whole back of the patient exposing the spine and then placed several pounds of permanent hardware around the entire spine so that he can sit up straight without pain.

The final surgery came last year when he had to have lung surgery to relieve serious pneumonia symptoms with an array of drain tubing drilled through his chest and sides, directly into his lungs.

As you can see these were definitely painful yet he never whines. It is just his life. He still lives it to the maximum.

Little David, like Mike and most “Special Needs People”, have this energy or spirit that is hard for me to adequately describe. They rarely lose focus. They never give up! They warm your heart like a fireplace on a cold winter day.

If you are blessed with knowing any of these special  people, I am sure you love them like we do. You cannot avoid giving them the respect they deserve to get.

Please take a moment to brag on them a little. There is a comment section at the bottom of this page.

Hopefully I have been able to give you a better idea of why these people are indeed special. I hope that I have been able to stir your interest in this fantastic group of people, young and old, civilian and veteran and our responsibility to give them a hand up and cheer them on to success in normal living.

I have had a few comments recently on the term Special Needs People. I honestly felt that I gave my reasons above as to why we (Little David and so many others) prefer the term Special Needs People or even People with Disabilities. Some have tried to tell me these are demeaning and that I should just say “Handicapped” and that seems demeaning to most people with disabilities. For now I will go with what Little David feels is most proper.

What are your feelings on this? I would love to have your inputs. Look for the comment section below.

Please share any comments or suggestions below and if you wish a photo and story about your special friend or tell us about your life. Hopefully this site will be a step forward to a  greater level of understanding to help all Special Needs People!

Please Bookmark us, there is more to follow.

Thank You!

About David Kennedy

I am a retired Senior Development Engineer for Hughes Aircraft Company. I retired from Hughes In 1997 and moved to Phoenix with my young daughter to be with my two older sons attending Arizona State University. I am a former member of the U.S. Air Force where I was an active member of the 95th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.
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