Originally Sent: 11/14/2013
November 14, 2013
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By Bev Linder
If you are a parent, caregiver, or ministry leader of kids with special needs, you realize that they have many, and varied, needs that are special. The word “special” could be replaced with the word “unique,” for these kids have some needs that other kids don’t have.
Kids with autism have, to name one, needs to be protected from over-stimulation and yet to be challenged to overcome some of their over-sensitivities.
Kids who have a physical disability have a need for assistance in nearly every endeavor they attempt in life. Individuals with cognitive or learning disabilities possess unique needs to be helped to learn, understand, and function at their own pace, in their own way. These all are “special needs.”
But having been a mom of special kids for 25 years, I’m convinced that all of these kids have much more un-special needs than they do special needs. What do I mean by that? Well, you could define un-special needs as needs that all young people have without exception, common needs, simply by virtue of being human and made in the image of God.
I am afraid that sometimes in our attempt to help and to love these special kids, we put way too much emphasis on their special needs, and not nearly enough attention on their un-special or common needs.
So what are these needs? Here’s a little sketch (oh no, I’m going to draw again!) of an “orb” of needs that all kids have. They include loving discipline, unconditional love, loving parents, a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, and personal faith.
Some of these needs can be overlooked in the special child, such as, for example, the need to give to others, or the need to know that mom and dad love each other. We may mistakenly come to think that the child is better off when the world revolves around meeting his special needs. Or we may forget that no matter how much a mom loves her special child, it’s just as important to that child that mom loves the child’s dad (and that the dad loves mom) in a practical way. (Even in the case of divorce, the child needs to hear parents speak in a positive way of each other.)
I’m sure you could add your contributions to the “orb” for there are hundreds of needs that every child whom God has created has in order to be healthy on the inside. But this simple list is a start, something to ponder, and to realize that these un-special needs in your special child are foundational to his or her happiness and success in life.
It’s an interesting thing … when we work more on the un-special needs in our kids, the needs that they have that are unique tend to improve without a huge amount of effort on the part of the parent. How well I know that the anxiety of wondering what will become of our children can be overwhelming and can cause us to be fixated on the problems. But seek God’s help to let go of the “anx” and to speak soothing, life-giving words to your child. Proverbs 15:4 says, “A soothing tongue is a tree of life.” How our kids need soothing words coming from a parent who is not anxious about their condition!
One of the greatest needs that a special needs child has is for others to forget about their special needs once in a while, long enough to focus on their humanness, on the person they are deep in their soul, and to treat them with the same respect as other young people. That respect involves holding them accountable to become all that God created them to be as well as being an example to them of what it looks like to have an active faith in the living God. These are un-special needs, and the most important needs to meet.
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