Her reaction? Her trying to stay calm then building up to angry tears and frustration? Exactly the emotions that played out with me. Because Maura? Maura could be that 34 yr old in church, playing with dolls, wearing bobby socks, and making weird noises. She WAS that child last Sunday. My daughter is a beautiful child of God and the last place she should feel unwanted at is in church – and the Pope would back me up on that, thank you very much.
And that mom has it right – why is it still okay to make fun of these people? These people who can’t defend themselves? Why? You didn’t need to go there Steve. You didn’t. Shame on you.
“This is our lives!” the mom says. And I get her. Oh, I get her so much. I want to just give her a big hug, because I know. I know what she’s feeling. We love our children so much. We love them so much because we know that their paths are so very hard, that they will be shunned simply for being disabled, for being different. And yet, we’d prefer the quiet shunning versus them being ridiculed publically. It is a hard life that we somehow find the joy in. We accept our children for the beautiful souls that they are. They don’t deserve to be ridiculed.
The above was brought to me as I was still reeling over another story I read out of Harris County, Texas, about a special needs student who was assaulted by his paraprofessional – the person who is supposed to be keeping him safe. And yet, because there was no “injury”, there will be no charges against this grown woman who put her hands on a child. She is on video, choking this boy, but because she didn’t actually physically injure him, there is nothing to charge her with.
But there was injury. Injury to the child, who has had trust broken. Injury to the parents, who sent their child off to school, told to trust the school, only to have their child abused and not told about it for days. The greater special needs community has been injured, because this is one of our biggest fears. No, there might not have been physical injury, but there was harm done. We’re told to trust schools, to send our children off, all will be well – and yet, these stories constantly pop up and remind us that the world is an even scarier place if you are disabled. The para-pro may have lost her job, but the family in this case lost something much more precious than a job.
This is our life. The life we choose to celebrate and live with as much joy as possible. A life where I revel in every one of my daughter’s hard-earned achievements while knowing that she’s fodder for comedians who don’t think, and that her chances of being abused are astronomically higher than the rest of society. And I will continue to be her voice, to speak out against these things, because she is totally worth it. Because Maura deserves better. We can do better people. We can do better.