I have been wanting to write about this topic for awhile. It’s been on my mind a lot as I have been blessed with a son who has been born with severe disabilities. I want to first point out that I write this not just as a mother, but also as a sister. I grew up with a younger brother who has autism and ADHD, and trust me it has made all the difference.
As we all know what we consider to be “normal” differs from culture to culture, family to family and person to person. What we consider normal is what the majority of the population experiences. For example; as a child develops majority of children in the world develop certain skills that are needed for survival. As we study different children we see that some will not develop in the norm or what we consider the norm. They are not like the majority of the population. As human beings, we are given the natural man and in that natural man we develop routines where we are used to a certain way things run, and when something happens outside of that routine we freak out. It’s okay to not understand things, and to be used to a certain way things are supposed to go. But it is also important to learn to adapt and educate ourselves.
When I was in young womens at church we did a service project where we went to a home for adults with disabilities. We all had a sacrament meeting with them, and sang primary songs. I remember standing in the middle of all these people, the “normal” people and the ones that were different. I remember thinking to myself how wonderful this moment was, how wonderful it was that we could all be around each other. How no one was making fun of these people, but instead it was a room full of love and acceptance. I also participated in special olympics, and have done many service projects with special needs children and adults. At every single one of these experiences a stake president, bishop, or service project leader would express their testimony of how special these people are. After these many different experiences I have come to understand how pure and perfect children and adults are who have special needs.
I feel that in the world today, because we meet someone who doesn’t fit what we consider to be the “norm” we close ourselves off to those people, we see them being bullied, avoided, looked down on. I have seen people look down on those with disabilities and think something is wrong with them, and that they are better. I have seen children express rude comments all because they are un educated in the importance of acceptance, kindness, and love. The sweetest spirits that I have ever met were given some sort of disability, abnormality, or may look different in some way. I know for myself that everyone I have come in contact with that has special needs I realize how they are better than me. At Primary Children’s hospital I was at a parent lunch when a woman walked in with her son in a wagon. He was unable to move, and control his movements. His mother explained; “He is what we all are trying to be. Pure.”
I look at William sometimes and wish his head had developed normally, that he didn’t have any other disabilities and he was like a normal baby. But as the days and months go on I realize how selfish that is of me. Children and Adults with special needs are already there, they have already achieved what the rest of us “normal” people strive a lifetime to achieve; being pure, becoming Christ-like, and becoming perfect.
“For reasons usually unknown, some people are born with physical limitations. Specific parts of the body may be abnormal. Regulatory systems may be out of balance. And all of our bodies are subject to disease and death. Nevertheless, the gift of a physical body is priceless. …A perfect body is not required to achieve a divine destiny. In fact, some of the sweetest spirits are housed in frail frames. …Eventually the time will come when each ‘spirit and … body shall be reunited again in … perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame’ (Alma 11:43). Then, thanks to the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can become perfected in Him.” Russell M. Nelson