Regular readers may know that I am a mom to a special needs, non verbal young adult son. He is among the most vulnerable among us. He cannot tell me if things are okay. As mom I must glean from his actions and signs whether he is happy, scared, hungry or tired.
One of my greatest fears is that someone would hurt or abuse him. Because of this, I am and will always be a ‘helicopter mom’, one who hovers nearby, always watching for an indication that there might be a problem.
I could be the mom in this video. This woman was concerned that her autistic son was not receiving good care. As an adult, the son lived in a nursing home with non-family caregivers. The mom’s intuition was so strong that she placed recording cameras in her son’s room and then watched the videos. The images she saw demonstrated enough abuse to her son by caregivers that they are now on trial for abuse.
With such staggering statistics, it may seem difficult for parents of autistic children to know how to protect against abuse and restraint. Cameras, such as those used by the parents of the 23-year-old in San Diego, are a good starting point.
No doubt, even the most experienced caregiver can become frustrated but it is never permissible to cause harm.
As Pope John Pall II said, “A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members…”
Did you see this picture? Following his first Easter Mass Pope Francis greeted worshipers and was handed up this young special needs boy to receive a kiss and hug. I thought it might be the top story for news outlets but it was hard to find any mention.
Why? The heartwarming photo, but even more so the video clip below shows that this disabled boy clearly knows and loves the warm embrace by the pope.
I suppose in this day where 80 to 90 percent of “disabled” fetuses are aborted the public does not want to see or hear this story. After all, women and families are told that their disabled child will not have a normal life and will not be able to participate fully in today’s society. “Get rid of it,” they are told, as though their unborn and maybe imperfect child has no value. But perhaps the disabled, the weakest among us, can serve in testament that every human person has value.
All have a purpose. Sometimes it is not obvious. Sometimes it is to teach others. Like the young boy in this clip.
Maybe his role in society is to teach others how to love and the new pope helps him. In the video below, fast forward to 10:30 and watch. Don’t you agree?
In full disclosure, I am not Catholic. I am however, mother to a young adult son who is nonverbal and has special needs. Every day he teaches me life lessons.
When my son was young he was, as he is today, nonverbal. At that time he was also hyperactive and had difficulty focusing causing him to often be in trouble with the teaching staff. This was at a time when kids with significant special needs were still in self contained classes. Today, most children are integrated into regular classrooms, some with one on one aides, depending on their needs. If my son had been in this situation I know he would have caused his teachers great grief. Some of my son’s schoolmates also had difficulty controlling their emotions. Anger is particularly challenging with special needs children.
In our case, we decided we could do better at home and chose to homeschool.
Today as I watched this video of a padded room in the Seattle area I am reminded that most often moms do know best. Yes, sometimes our special needs kids need a time out, a chance to regroup. But I cannot believe putting a child into a padded room without well trained supervision can ever be the best choice.