When I was a kid I thought that having a handicapped sister/brother was normal. I thought all families had one,little did I know that our family was unique. When my sister D was born she had many special needs. They told my parents she would probably die before she was three. When she made it to her third birthday they said she wouldn't live past 13. This Sept 17th she will turn 50.
I remember when I was in Jr high (now called middle school) one of my teachers in health class was talking about special needs children and to me the way it sounded was like she was putting them down and shunning them. She asked if any of us knew any special needs kids? I kept my mouth shut, cause if she didn't like these kids I wasn't gonna tell her about my sister. But a neighbor from up the street shouted out about me having a handicapped sister in a wheelchair. So the teacher asked me what her problems were. So I told her she was mentally retarded and had CP. The teacher nodded and said yes that's what her brother had and was in the hospital that day fighting for his life.The next thing she said surprised me. She said that if every parent had one "normal" child and one "special needs" child more people would be compassionate. I had a new insight to that teacher because she understood. The next day she wasn't there in fact she never returned. You see her brother passed away that day right about the time we were talking about him. My teacher quite teaching what she called "normal" children and went to teach "special needs" children.
I have always defended my sister. Anyone who stared at her I would tell them to take a picture. People who whispered and stared I would tell them to get a life and leave us alone. I'm sorry to say that I also used some not so nice four letter words! Because to me my sister was a VIP.
Once my youngest sister came along and she wasn't a special needs person, but mom needed help taking care of her so she could deal with the things that had to be done on a daily basis for sister D sister C was now my responsibility. Which was ok with me.
What surprises me the most today is that we accept all people with special needs as just another person. Back when my sister was little many many people including the doctors who cared for her kept telling my parents to lock her in the hospital for people with special needs. My parents checked out one of those hospitals and actually left my sister for a week but they couldn't stand knowing she was there with all those other people with problems. You see even though D had many problems and special needs my parents pretty much acted as if she was just like anyone else. Oh sure she did get treated a little more special than myself and sister C but for crying out loud we never felt that she was any better than us, but maybe just a little worse off than us. To us she was "normal"
And even though we are just getting going into summer I can't wait till Sept! Those doctors would be shocked if they were still alive that sister D has lived much longer than they ever gave her hope for.