Helping children survive, live and thrive with a disability

Children with disabilities are people too. My wish for children with disabilities is that we (the other) give our children the humanity they were born with. Each child comes into our world with their own God-given right to be treated as he/she wants to be treated. People in their spheres of influence and education must take every conceivable and unconceivable step to ensure the child’s viability as a worthy human being.

Our systems of self-indulgence, discrimination, subordination and exploitation must stop if our children are to reach a level of success on any relative scale they choose. The systems and frames we operate from control one’s ability to allow individualism to most.

In my childhood, one of many simple tasks, like tying shoes, was an overwhelming and all-consuming task as it was taught to me. All-consuming because none of the fingers on my left hand moved on their own.

People without a disability had equal use of all fingers. The simple task of tying one’s shoes was being taught without respect for and knowledge of the effects of my disability on the use of my fingers.

From the age of four until I was nine, all of my family members and childhood friends willingly tied my shoes for me. All of them tried with much futility, I am sure, to teach me the simple task of tying shoes.

My family and friends did not have any training or assistance available to them for learning the intricacies of working with and training a child with a disability to be self-sufficient. The training needed would and should have included the physical, mental, emotional and psychological knowledge required not only for working with and training me, but most importantly for their own mental, emotional, physical and psychological health.

I am more than sure that my family and friends experienced emotional and psychological trauma that has never been treated, and probably they have never realized what happened to them. Today, 55 years later, parents, siblings, friends and caregivers are experiencing trauma in many ways unrealized and untreated.

I know this due to the language I hear used when people without a disability describe a child with a disability or their life around such a child. The use of language such as, “My child did something most normal children do”. This defeats the God-given purpose of the child’s life.

Every child is normal within their realm of possibilities. Placing our or the system’s definition of “normal” on any child, especially a child with a disability whether genetic or acquired by accident, is a disservice and borders on abuse of the child, as well as abuse of oneself and others.

Our children need our help, not our sympathy.


Kenneth Brown is a disability, seniors, and human rights advocate and consultant. He welcomes reader responses to, or telephone/text 612-518-2155.

One Comment on “Helping children survive, live and thrive with a disability”

  1. Thank you fro a thoughtful and challenging piece. Our son was born 36 years ago with congenital hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy. As best we could we raised him like other children with expectations, discipline and goals; he was even home-schooled with my two daughters.

    MN has a wealth of resources for those in the disabled community and those who love and care for them. I would commend PACER Center Inc. (Parents Advocacy Coalition for Education Rights) as an excellent resource for parents, guardians, foster care providers to navigate the public school system and obtain the educational resources they are entitled to.

    They were THE difference helping my wife and I raise a capable adult without pity and a victim mentality. Call them: 1-952-838-9000

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