October is (among many other wonderful things) Disability Awareness Month [it’s also Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, National Respect Life Month, National Sewing Month, and National Pizza Month, along with many other causes dear to my heart — can we spread them out, maybe?? Maybe we could put some of these in July, whose only cause, although completely worthy of commemoration, is National Ice Cream Month. Who’s in charge of this stuff? But I digress.]
It’s no secret if you’re a faithful reader of this blog that John Paul changed my life. I love him forever and thank the good Lord that He had John Paul in mind for us. This is in no way to diminish the love I have for my other boys, but it has in a funny and wonderful way enhanced that love, too. Hard to explain, but love is funny that way.
There is a growing awareness of the strength and integrity of those with disabilities. I’m sure it’s not only because it’s more on my radar due to John Paul. I think the paralympics got more attention this year with more coverage than ever before; there are increasingly more people with disabilities highlighted on TV shows and commercial advertising, and a new sitcom about a boy with cerebral palsy (I haven’t seen it but in seeing the trailer I could see that it would resonate with a lot of parents with special needs kids!).
It’s a complicated world, not only because of the complexities and varieties of the disabilities themselves, but because of the way the world reacts to Disability. It’s hard to find the balance between making accommodations without isolating them or making them feel like a burden, and treating them with kindness and charity without being patronizing or feeling sorry for them. In the end, it’s all about treating them like a person — not ignoring or whitewashing over their disability, but acknowledging it, and then listening to them and being present to them.
In honor of Disability Awareness Month, here are 5 of my favorite Instagram accounts that love, respect and highlight persons with uniqueness:
she is real and funny and happens to also be in a wheelchair. Her photos are often bittersweet as she talks about obstacles she encounters trying to maneuver through the world. She recently wrote an amazing article about Ableism and its silent and devastating affect on the disabled and the culture at large, which you should read here. “Ableism” — it’s a thing….I don’t usually like labels, but this is one which I think is out there and glossed over pretty widely.
I really follow Kelle Hampton for her beautiful photos and her eye for design, but her kids are adorable, which just makes it all the better.
My sister told me about this guy who dressed up his baby like Elf on the Shelf and put him in all of these photoshopped photos doing hilarious mischief all over the house. Then I found out he had a son with Down Syndrome named Wil and that Wil could fly….and I was hooked.
Lucky fin! As in “Finding Nemo!” This is probably the way I most often explain John Paul’s little arms to kids who ask what “happened” to them. (What happened to his arms?!) Except that JP has 2 lucky fins instead of just one. This feed made me realize how many people out there have limb differences. They are all over the place and it’s not keeping them from doing what they want to do.
“Disability is a Gift” — definitely a great place to find some inspiration and read some amazing stories. Sometimes the stories don’t have happy endings, and sometimes the stories are hard to read. But they always speak to the strength and resilience of the human spirit.