Liane Kupferberg Carter, The Mighty - January 10, 2015
In the almost two years since I started disability blogging, I have seen many excellent articles and blog posts, like the one above, offering advice to parents of disabled kids. Not surprisingly, there is a lot of overlap on these lists, since a lot of the best advice is really just common sense. Occasionally, I’ll see a suggestion I actually disagree with, but that’s fairly rare.
There is one bit of advice for “special needs parents” that I don’t think I have ever seen on a list like this:
Get to know an adult with your child’s disability.
I included this in a collaborative blog post I did last year with Kerith Stull, of the Brielle & Me blog, but other than that, I don’t think I have ever seen the idea or anything like it in any other advice article targeted to parents of disabled kids. Not that I think I’m so brilliant, but this surprises me. As I always try to say when I write about parenting, I am not a parent myself, but it seems to me like meeting an adult or two with a disability similar to your child’s would be a pretty obvious item for any parent’s to-do list. The relative absence of this idea on “special needs parenting” blogs suggests two possible explanations:
1. It’s just not occurring to parents, or
2. Parents do give this a try and for some reason don’t find it helpful or satisfying.
It’s the second possibility that has me most curious. I would be interested in hearing from parents of disabled kids who have come to know some adults with disabilities. Do you find that connection helpful, or not? If not, is there anything we, as disabled adults, could do differently to be more supportive of you and your child? You can post replies in the comments below.
Now that I think about it, I have seen this idea indirectly suggested on the TV show Parenthood. In one of the earlier seasons, Adam and Kristina Braverman, (whose son Max has Aperger Syndrome), meet a man living successfully with Asperger's. Later in the series, Max gets to know a photographer who discovers, through Max, that he may have Asperger's too. In both cases, Max's parents gain some perspective on Max's disability, and added hope for his future. It's well worth watching.