Don't Underestimate Individuals With Special Needs

Full Throttle Info
LawnmowingPhoto byEdwin ChenonUnsplash

Don't underestimate what an individual with special needs can do. Ever. They will surprise you every time. I speak from experience. As a parent of a child with special needs, I know firsthand that ALL individuals with special needs are different. I get it. I know skills and capabilities vary. But again, don't underestimate what they CAN do. It will blow you away if you at least open your mind to the possibilities and present opportunities they may not otherwise ever get.

Moms tend to be more protective. It's just how we're wired. Protect. Preserve. That is what we do. Men, on the other hand, are wired TOTALLY differently. They see things that we don't see. They are born leaders and are designed that way by God. That is why God made man the head of the family.

My husband worked with staff at Greene County Developmental board assisting with various things including training. He assisted in providing hands-on training for individuals with special needs in a broad range of areas.

Several summers ago approximately 7 to 10 students were brought to our home so that my husband could give them hands-on training and experience in planting flowers. They were always accompanied and monitored by a teacher throughout every training session. It was a beautiful summer day and the perfect day for planting flowers. On this particular day, our push lawn mower was sitting in the yard. After every one, had finished the planting he noticed one of the students, a young man who rarely spoke, kept staring at our lawn mower.

You have to understand my husband to know that he gives EVERYONE an opportunity to be successful in things that may normally be a challenge. So without any hesitation, he asked the young man, “Are you wanting to use the lawnmower?” The young man nodded yes. “Have you ever used a lawn mower before?” The young man shook his head no. So, my husband reached over, fired the lawnmower up, and walked next to the young man as he steered the lawnmower, away they went!!! We have a long backyard. My husband told me that when they got to the end and turned around, he said, “Kris, they were ALL lined up wanting to cut the grass!”

So, one by one, my husband assisted students that had never had the opportunity to use a lawnmower before experiencing it that day in our backyard. They maintained the same strip and path of grass as the young man who did it first.

Had it not been for my husband, our son (who has cerebral palsy) would not know how to change the oil in a vehicle, change a tire, use a zero-turn lawn mower, (I can't even use a zero turn!!!!!) drive a jet ski, swim, work on semi-transmissions, change spark plugs, use a weed trimmer and so much more. My “protective instincts” would have guarded him and shielded him from anything with the least remote possibility of accident or injury. But that's not truly living. Is it? You ….correction ... we have to at least let our kid try, don't we? Start slow. If you have a dog, let your loved one walk the dog. It will give them confidence. The more you let them do, the more your loved one's confidence will be built up. They need the confidence to face this world. They won't be able to do everything, but they will be able to do many things. Parents, hear me when I say - Unplug the gaming systems. Reduce the electronics time. Teach them how to contribute to their daily lives and to make a difference. Let them be a part of the household and everything it takes to keep it going. Quit doing everything for them! One day, may not be here. They will need a form of self-sufficiency. Teach them to wash, dry and fold their own laundry, including putting it away. Teach them to empty the trash cans, and take the garbage can to the curb. If they are not ambulatory let them do as much as they possibly can. Their accomplishments will also be their biggest bragging rights! We brag on our accomplishments, so let them have their bragging rights! They deserve it!

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I have 35 years in Business Administration and enjoy writing about family, business, community, and global events. I hope my content is an asset to you. "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." - Ernest Hemingway

Dayton, OH

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