08 Sep Children with Special Needs are Ordained by God
Parenting a child with special needs come with a whole multiple of emotions that are difficult in dealing with but the most painful of them all, is the feeling of exclusion and isolation. It can be very frustrating for any parent when your child is not thought of or included in activities with “other children” just because the child is seen as different. unfortunately, we live in a society where our culture has defined what is acceptable behavior, what is intelligence, and what is physical prowess any child who does not fit into this normative definition is labeled disabled or disordered.
The post that was shared on “inclusion” last week brings back a sad experience I had as a member of a local church. You know how it feels when you are away from home and you try to identify with your people. So, I joined a local church (Nigerian church) here in the US and of course I shared my story with them. After a while, I observed that my son was never in any of the children’s classes during service. He was always left alone to be wondering about in the children’s church. I accosted some of the children’s teachers at different times on why my son was never in class with the other children, their responses were not convincing. As if not that was not enough, during one of the children’s end of year events, my son was not included in any of the activities or asked to practice with them during any of their rehearsals. On the of the day of the event, I sat with my child all through in church service watching the children perform. The last performance was the Christmas carol that was sang by every child in church that day including toddlers(they were going seat by seat to call all children up and when they got to me and my son, the lady looked at us and said “oh” and took the little boy that his mum was on the same seat with us. my son wanted to follow her, I pulled him back. He cried all through the children sang the song because he could not understand why he was not part of the children. After that day, I knew that my days in that church was numbered so I moved to an American church but was alternating the services between my local church and the new church. After attending the new church about a few times, I observed that my child will cry each Sunday we are to worship at the local church. Every Saturday, he would ask me “mummy, which church are we going tomorrow? If my answer is the local church, his next response would be “mummy please let’s go to the new church, I like it so much”. So, we stopped worshiping with the local church and I gave my reasons when they reached out to me.
Just months into the new church, the children’s teacher came to me after service on this day to show me a video of my son drumming during praise worship. She was so excited and so into her story about how amazing, gifted, super-intelligent my son is that I started crying. While she was still talking, the youth pastor came and said with love and excitement “this must be Toby’s mum and we both said “yes”. He just said, “I could not resist posting a video of Toby playing the drum during praise worship to the church website this morning”. Before I knew it, they were like 4 of them all talking about my son and how incredible he is. The next Sunday, Toby made the closing remark and every Sunday, he is presented with responsibility or the other. Just imagine how that made feel. Instantly, I thought of hundreds of children who are not given or presented with an opportunity to express themselves because they considered to be different?
We really need to grow in understanding, wisdom, and acceptance of these children. We need to remember that these children too are “Ordained by God” so they need our love and support. If we do not support and involve them, how would they learn? Learning about disabilities gives you a much greater understanding of the human condition and help you to look at children with special needs through different eyes. I am much better able to see the wonder and incredible beauty in each child today.
We have a long way to go to form this inclusive world, but our faith communities can lead the way. Our love and acceptance can change the world for children who are perceived as different.
I hope that professionals, teachers, pastors, and parents will be more accepting, loving, supporting, and welcoming all children into our schools, churches, and public places. I also hope that special parents will equip themselves with information and knowledge not only to care for their children but to be their advocate.