Please read it and pass it around to any mother or father fighting a superhero's battle on behalf of a child. Pass it on to anyone who needs a fresh take on Halloween:
Boo! Hoo! [Halloween for Kids With Special Needs] by Lori Miller Fox
Every year as Halloween approaches, I battle mixed feelings. For my “typically developing” daughter, it’s a day second only to her birthday. It’s a day when she can be a princess both inside and out, gather all the candy she and her dad can carry, and eat until she can’t fit one more Skittle or piece of Reese's into her tiny mouth. For me, it’s a day when I too want to fit every piece of Reese's into my mouth but only to swallow the pain.
Halloween, has always been a symbol of childhood. It’s a day when children can be children and live out their costume and candy fantasies. But for kids with special needs and their families, it can be a day of segregation, isolation and frustration.
Since many children with special needs can’t or have to limit their intake of candy, my son’s only enjoyment on Halloween was ringing the doorbells--a task, which in a wheelchair, was made very difficult by steps and stoops and shrubs and stares. So many unfamiliar “neighbors” tried to relieve their shock and saddness by dumping handfuls of candy my son would never eat into a bag that he couldn’t hold. But then again, more for the grieving parents.
Now that my son is 14, I thankfully no longer have to worry about what kind of costume goes with a wheelchair, and I can avoid the painful “elementary school parade” for which upright posture was the only thing to be grateful. And I can mindlessly answer the door and force a smile on my face as I pass out the Hershey bars.
Today as I look back on my Annual Autumn anxiety, I realize that as parents of children with special needs, we’re often the ones having to wear the costumes. And not only on Halloween, but every day. From the smiles we paint on our faces to the stiff upper lips we rubber cement onto our chins. As our children grow, we become the people they need us to be, to enable them to be who they are.
We become superheroes...fighting for our children’s rights.
Lions and lionesses...protecting our defenseless cubs.
And cartoon characters...getting the proverbial anvil dropped on our heads only to rise the next day and start all over again.
We morph into oak trees...solid, not budging from our positions.
Wizards...looking for the universal magic wand to manifest the impossible.
And knights in armor...battling the unjust judgments and criticisms of those around us.
We can appear to be aliens...with families unlike most of our neighbors.
Great explorers...yearning to find answers to questions ony parents would ask.
And founding fathers...striving to create something better for our children.
We are athletes...still reaching when nothing is within reach.
Builders...laying down strong foundations for our children’s lives.
And circus clowns...trying desperately to find the humor in it all.
We are survivors...we are innovators...we are the champions for our children who are the greatest champions of all. Have a happy Halloween. Eat some candy!