SPECIAL NEEDS KIDS

By | January 18, 2017

I recently interviewed two experienced educators in NW Arkansas schools. Both work with disabled children; one full time. I was impressed with their dedication and their compassion. I’ve been alarmed at the growing number of children with Autism Spectrum, fetal alcohol brain damage, Downs’ Syndrome, and ADHD. More and more, our public schools are making difficult and costly provisions to accommodate and care for these special-needs kids. Is it worth it? Yes, of course, it surely is. We have no choice!

I was impressed with their dedication and their compassion. I’ve been alarmed at the growing number of children with Autism Spectrum, fetal alcohol brain damage, Downs’ Syndrome, and ADHD. More and more, our public schools are making difficult and costly provisions to accommodate and care for these special-needs kids. Is it worth it? Yes, of course, it surely is. We have no choice!

No one knows for sure what is causing this disturbing statistical rise in the percentage of children with mental or emotional disorders. I wish we could prevent it. The kids are innocent and need care. I’m glad we can offer them extra help in our schools. The effort to mainstream special-needs children seems successful. Some of the more severely handicapped students must remain in structured classroom environments.

There is no doubt that Special Ed classes in public schools help kids learn more and socialize better (within their limits). They may be better able to integrate into adult society one day. The dedicated teachers that I’ve met do a heroic job of helping both kids and parents. One father told me, “He talks to us now!”

Beyond the special-needs children, there is an increasing number growing up in single parent homes. They are not handicapped, but they are missing out on something which in the past, was thought to be essential to their character and entry into adulthood that is, the example of a responsible father and husband in the home. The man is their male role model.

I’ll quote a black pastor friend who developed a bumper sticker that says it all: “It takes a man to teach a man to be a man.” Men are not just disposable sperm donors. The state can’t raise your kids.

Despite the government’s efforts to redefine the family unit or to make a single parent home seem to be the norm rather than the exception, it is not the norm and it never will be. For one thing, single moms battle poverty while the man who deserts her usually enjoys a more prosperous lifestyle.

For me to say, “single-parent homes are not the norm” does not take away from the brave efforts of mothers who raise good kids on their own. But I won’t look at a person with one leg and try to fool you by saying that it’s the normal way to walk.

The bigger issue is marriage. If a marriage is intact, then the kids have two parents. The family is not hobbled or crippled. It takes two people to make a marriage work but it takes only one person to destroy it. A basic question is, what kind of person is ready or able to sustain a marriage covenant? Marriage takes commitment.

Dr. Martin Luther King said that character counts. Your character is more than personality. It reflects your integrity. If you were raised by parents who taught you not to lie, cheat, or steal but to be respectful, you likely are a person with integrity. Inside, you are who you appear to be on the outside. If you have integrity, then you can integrate, or bond with another person. You can make a covenant, stay married, and raise children.

This kind of love is an earthly part of the kingdom of God. All of us are special needs kids in one form or another. We have an advantage if we walk upright using both legs to stand on. Two are better than one.

Ron Wood is a writer, pastor, and teacher. He and his wife, Lana, live in NWA near their two adult kids and six grandchildren. Email: wood.stone.ron@gmail.com. Website: www.touchedbygrace.org.

—END— 600 words, for publication January 25, 2017, NWADG weekly edition.

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