The stroke created lasted changes in their life from a health stand point. Due to face paralysis, she was no longer able to smile. That was one of the things the girl loved about her mom. She always smiled. It didn’t seem to matter what was going on, the stress she was under, or problems she encountered at work; her mom always wore a smile.
The girl, in an attempt to support her mom, made the decision that she, too, would no longer smile. As time passed, she was taunted as being different and unfriendly because her smile was hidden. Her heart was breaking both for the world she was missing, but also for the relationship that was slipping away with her mom.
Her mom noticed her daughter’s lack of smiling, and finally decided to talk with her about it, although it was difficult since talking was still challenging. One afternoon they went for a walk at the mom's urging, and the mom went right to the heart of the problem. “If my stroke had taken my sight, would you cover yours, so you would be unable to see?”
“That’s not fair,” the girl objected. “You can see. You just can’t smile.”
“I smile in my heart all the time,” she responded. “Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.”
The mother’s response to her daughter’s feelings were spot on. There are those with disabilities of all kinds who are misunderstood. While the mom was able to talk with her daughter one on one, very often that isn’t possible with a disabled person, unless of course, there is reason to interact.
Family members and even close friends who know the person with a disability accepts the person without undue tensions. Very often, research is done on the problem, within the “circle” because parents need to understand the problem, as do siblings and other family members. Because of a community that is involved with the family, they too, may understand the particulars about why a person is in a wheelchair, talks differently, has learning disabilities, uses crutches or countless other “peculiarities.”
But the child who passes another child with a disability at the mall or in another public place is often completely unprepared for what he sees, largely because he does not understand. Parents very often can’t explain in passing, what the problem might be so the child is left feeling the child is “stupid, retarded, weird” or a hundred other things, while the parents admonish the child to “stop staring!”
Being educated is very important. Classrooms are integrating students with special needs more and more, every year. Still, often a child is left with the question, “What is wrong with my friend?” I encourage you to learn about disabilities and by all means, when you can, educate your children. It’s a great way to teach acceptance and understand from those who are different!