The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

November 16, 2013

Walk a mile in a special-needs kid's shoes

By a special-needs mother Special to The Daily Star
The Daily Star

---- — Editor’s note: The Daily Star is departing this one time from our policy of requiring authors of commentaries to identify themselves. The reason is so as not to expose children’s identities in what we feel is an important message for the benefit of all special-needs children and their families. 

I spent all day after our appointment today feeling upset. I was distracted wondering why your interactions today, and previous interactions with “A” have bothered me so much. I am very well aware that “A” can be hard to handle, I am her mother, after all. After we left the shop and I sat in my car feeling angry, confused and upset.

First I was upset with “A” for not behaving, but then the more I thought about it the more I came to realize that I was not upset with “A,” I was offended and saddened with how you treated her today, and have treated in the past. You see, knowing that you are not a “kid person” (it’s not hard to tell), I could see that “Z” was on the verge of an epic meltdown and I desperately wanted to avoid that from happening in your shop. 

Just the thought of the glares and looks I would receive was enough to make the decision to take “Z” out of the building. I truly thought that “A” would be OK in there by herself waiting for her appointment for a few minutes while I got “Z” under control. I realize now that that was a big mistake on my part.

All that being said, what you don’t know is that we spent all morning at the doctor’s office because “A” has been having severe headaches daily for the past two weeks. What you don’t know is that “A” has been diagnosed by a child psychiatrist with ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder and an anxiety disorder that apparently was elevated after I left the shop, and that is why she was standing in the window — she was looking for me. 

What you don’t know is that “A” has sensory processing disorder, which is why she is constantly touching and playing with things. What you don’t know is that “A” has a tic disorder, which could be classified as Tourette’s syndrome. What you don’t know is that “A” has been bullied at school, being called fat and ugly, and even physically assaulted on the school bus. 

You see, special-needs children should be treated a lot like special-needs animals. I’m using this analogy because you are quite obviously an “animal person.” They need to be treated with kindness, patience, gentleness and love. I realized that I was so upset because I felt like you, too, were bullying “A.” My mom hackles are up big-time.

Your unprofessional and inappropriate behavior is why I will no longer be a patron of your establishment. This is really quite upsetting to me because I think that “M” is amazing. You should take a few lessons from her on customer service. Being rude, judgmental, and small-minded really is no way to run a service-oriented business.

Hopefully, your blissful ignorance on the topic of special-needs children will be at least minimally chipped away by this letter. You might want to consider the fact that just because you cannot see an obvious disability, does not necessarily mean that one does not exist. One more piece of advice, the next time you have an issue with the way that a child is behaving, talk to his or her parents.

No parent likes to see a stranger discipline his or her child. Be an adult and have a little chat with Mom or Dad. I know it must seem a bit intimidating because the Mom or Dad might actually stand up for themselves and their children, whereas you have so much greater chance of making a child feel small and shameful without having to accept the possible consequence of your ignorant assumptions.