Disabled people have feelings too

Disabled people have feelings too

No parent should have to bury their child. But that was the reality for Katrina and Rob Young when they said good bye to their seven-year-old daughter Amelia at Frenchs Forest Bushland Cemetery just over a week ago. Amelia had succumbed to double pneumonia, a complication of Rett syndrome, a hideous genetic disorder she shared with her identical twin Hannah. The twins at 12 months were happy, healthy girls until Rett syndrome took hold just months later, trapping them in a world where they could no longer talk nor walk nor feed themselves.

Watching Hannah at her sister’s funeral I wondered how much she understood.

“Everything,” her family told me. “Absolutely everything.”

Which is why I want to share with you an extract from a poem read at the service. 

I am the child

(author unknown)

I am the child who cannot talk.
You often pity me, I see it in your eyes.
You wonder how much I am aware of—I see that as well.
I am aware of much, whether you are happy or sad or fearful,
patient or impatient, full of love and desire,
or if you are just doing your duty by me.
I marvel at your frustration, knowing mine to be far greater,
for I cannot express myself or my needs as you do.

You cannot conceive my isolation, so complete it is at times.
I do not gift you with clever conversation, cute remarks to be laughed over and repeated.
I do not give you answers to your everyday questions,
responses over my well-being, sharing my needs,
or comments about the world about me.

I do not give you rewards as defined by the world’s standards—great strides in development that you can credit yourself;
  I do not give you understanding as you know it.
What I give you is so much more valuable—I give you instead opportunities.

Opportunities to discover the depth of your character, not mine;
the depth of your love, your commitment, your patience, your abilities;
the opportunity to explore your spirit more deeply than you imagined possible.
I drive you further than you would ever go on your own, working harder, seeking answers to your many questions with no answers.
I am the child who cannot talk.

I am the child who cannot walk.
The world seems to pass me by.
You see the longing in my eyes to get out of this chair, to run and play like other children.
There is much you take for granted.
I want the toys on the shelf, I need to go to the bathroom, oh I’ve dropped my fork again.
I am dependent on you in these ways.
My gift to you is to make you more aware of your great fortune,
your healthy back and legs, your ability to do for yourself.
Sometimes people appear not to notice me; I always notice them.
I feel not so much envy as desire, desire to stand upright,
to put one foot in front of the other, to be independent.
I give you awareness.
I am the child who cannot walk.

I am the child who is mentally impaired.
I don’t learn easily, if you judge me by the world’s measuring stick,
what I do know is infinite joy in simple things.
I am not burdened as you are with the strife’s and conflicts of a more complicated life.
My gift to you is to grant you the freedom to enjoy things as a child,
to teach you how much your arms around me mean, to give you love.
I give you the gift of simplicity.
I am the child who is mentally impaired.

I am the disabled child.
I am your teacher. If you allow me, I will teach you what is really important in life.
I will give you and teach you unconditional love.
I teach you about how precious this life is and about not taking things for granted.  

I am the disabled child.

Next time you see a disabled child, or adult, stop, smile and say hello.

They will notice. 

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