Wednesday, May 13, 2015

When Special is Typical

Anyone living in the world of disability cannot help but have heard about the "typical" siblings of a disabled child.  They miss out on things because of Mom or Dad hauling the Special Kid off to yet another therapy or appointment.  They are always more compassionate than other kids, because their sibling with special needs taught them to have more patience and understanding.    

Are we supposed to be more grateful for these typical siblings, and wish we had been able to give them more attention?  I think we did a pretty good job of making sure the  "Original Three" still led typical lives, despite being saddled with special needs siblings.  Besides, they even got trips to Hong Kong and Taiwan because of the adoptions.  They're pretty compassionate, but show me any family with nine kids and you'll see a lot of love from the older ones being showered down upon the littles.

Five of our nine children have Down Syndrome.  In the realm of disabilities, I think this is pretty minor.  There has never been a lot of pitying the poor siblings going on here.  Besides, the Original Three are all grown up and moving on...although I do admit the reality that some day they may choose to care for their adult siblings.

Leif is still here though, a 4 year old completely typical boy being raised with his 5 special brothers and sisters.

Leif does not know what Down Syndrome is, or what it means for his siblings.  He does know Dante has Autism, and that it makes him different and sometimes irritating.  That's life, though.

So I guess now it falls to the oldest three-- Amelia, ShanLin, and Micah to help take care of their little brothers and sister.

Leif asked his big sister to pour him some juice.  Dante indicated to Amelia that he wanted to go out into the water, and he trusted her to take him.  Micah knew that Kimberly needed some guidance so he took her by the hand on the sidewalk.

Does this technically make them "typical" siblings?

Even Kimberly wanted to give our special Dante a toy and a pat on the head when he fell asleep on the floor.

My kids look after each other in ways that amaze me every day.

These kids are role models for each other. It made perfect sense for Leif to have Amelia do the driving when he and Dante wanted to hang out in Poppy's truck.  And when Leif asked his big brother and sister to play with him,  Micah and ShanLin were more than willing to put on some costumes and play along.  They think it's pretty cool that he's nicknamed them Iceman and Firestar.  (Amelia is Batman.)

In our house, all the kids are learning compassion, and they each get their own time too.  Amelia, ShanLin, and Micah take part in Special Olympics Gymnastics and an amazing dance class, Leif and Kimberly are each in a gymnastics class, and Dante gets to go to school every day and have boatloads of attention from his wonderful teacher and aides.

In our house everyone is typical and special, even if none of the kids living here know-- or would care-- what those words mean.

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