It’s okay, you can stare…
Updated: Jul 20, 2019
Well, you can stare at Hank. I don’t mind. I’m hopeful that you will ask a question and we can have a conversation; maybe you will walk away changed a little.
Hank looks a little different sometimes than a normal 2 year old. He doesn’t talk, he doesn’t sit or walk, he can’t use his hands. He can’t feed himself and doesn’t eat regular food.
He has braces on his hands and legs and a patch on one eye. And when we are out and Hank is strapped into his GoTo Seat or his wheelchair.
I see the looks. Adults make a few quick glances and then go on. Little kids will point to it and parents will shush them. That’s where I intervene.
As we shopped in the Dollar General one day, Hank in his seat, 2 little boys were watching. One said something and Dad realized what they were doing. He said “boys, that’s not nice. Don’t stare.”
Moms, Dads, caregivers… please don’t shush them. Don’t turn them away. When you do that, you plant the seed that people with equipment aren’t to be looked at and talked to.
I said “Do you want to see it?” And they checked with Dad, who nodded. I said, “This is Hank. His muscles in his belly and back don’t work, so he needs help to sit up and this seat helps him.” They said it was neat, said hello to Hank and then went back to Dad.
I want your little one to (respectfully, with curiosity, with kindness) to say “What is that?” I will be happy to briefly explain and encourage them to shake his hand and say Hi.
They can touch his AFO, they can look at his cool eye patch, they can check out his interesting seat. I want to teach that little mind that disabilities aren’t scary, they don’t need to be looked away from, they won’t catch it.
I smiled at Dad and he smiled back. He asked me how old Hank was and what did he have. I said he was 2 and has a brain malformation & cerebral palsy. All he said was “Thank You” and they wandered off.
I won’t try to stop you and push our story. I won’t chase down your kids for pointing and looking. But if I can catch the chance, I will educate.
Please don’t be afraid. And please let your kids be curious, how else will they learn.