Disabled Children: A Life of Challenges and Happiness
As a little girl, I always had tremendous empathy for disabled people; all I wanted was to help all of them. When I saw them on the street or in a store, I always thought to myself, "All I want to do is fix all their problems, and take their hurt and pain away", it hurt my heart to see them struggling. As the years came and gone, the softness in my heart for them only grew; 4th grade year I made a new best friend, named Alexia Vousboukis. Little did I know then that we would remain just as close ten years later, her family welcomed me with open arms…especially her youngest brother, Gabe, who was born with Down Syndrome. Her family taught me so much about patience and unconditional love. To this day Gabe calls and leaves voicemails to tell me he loves and misses me. He and I hit it off instantly; his presence was always like summer day; bright, warm and loving. Nineteen short months ago my beautiful niece came into this world, with complications. She was stuck in the birthing canal too long, causing her to loose oxygen to her brain. Cerebral Palsy (CP) is the official diagnosis, after all these months, we still do not know how much damage was caused: all we know is that this little girl will write her own book and will always mean the world to us. The term "disabled" can mean a physical disability, mental disability, or both; also the term developmentally disabled (DD) means the same thing. Many people laugh and call peers or friends “retarded” as a form of kidding around, which is slang for disabled; it is only careless, hurtful and disrespectful. A 'normal' child is already a hand full as it is, now adding a physical or mental disability to an already tough job can make the raising of that child incredibly hard but yet abundantly rewarding job. Seeing everything my eldest sister, Christiana, has to do for my niece, Mikayla, amazes me. Between the medicines, therapies, appointments and tube feedings, I will never know how she manages to do it all, and she still has that joy shining through her eyes. This little twenty pound toddler is the heart of Christiana and my brother-in-law, Josh; he is there for them every step of the way. Their family is far from perfect, but when love grows through hard times, it is the greatest gift of all. A mentally impaired child will always keep some, or most, dependency on their parent’s and family, depending on which special needs they require help for. Being unable to take on daily activities that most people take for granted, it becomes frustrating for both the parent and the child. With routines and schedules, referred to as normalcy, life becomes more enjoyable and easy going. Mikayla Kelly Buffington, her legal and prestigious name, is a blue eyed girl with voluminous sandy colored, curly locks of hair. Her eyelashes are fuller than most adult woman’s and she is a spitting image of my beautiful sister, Christiana. She looks more like a doll than a baby girl. Mikayla cannot feed herself, her gag reflex makes it impossible to eat the variation of foods in order to grow. Therefore, Christiana mixes different nutritious foods together; a calculated amount of calories, fat and other nutrition blended up and pushed through her G-Tube. The G-Tube is a supplemental to ensure that she gets the proper nutrition. A ‘normal’ baby will be completely dependent on their mother and father to take care of each and every one of their needs. From eating, to drinking, being changed and feeling the love they need, a baby is the most helpless of all the species. Once they grow, they begin to learn their surroundings and their motor skills develop as well, this is when they become more independent. A chubby little curly haired boy with tootsie pop eyes and a smile that warms your heart, Keenan, is the ten month ‘going on two year’ little boy that I have the pleasure of babysitting. Keenan is already wobbling around, he is an incredibly curious...
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