I find this question to be a very interesting one. Growing up we are given an image of what someone with special needs looks like and today I find that to be extremely different. As a mom of two children with special needs, I have learned that special needs comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors and that it is incredibly hard for the community to except that. I have 3 children total, but my second and third were born with unique needs. My son was an adorable baby but boy was he miserable. It was hard for him to eat, sleep, and he never wanted to be held. He didn't speak until he was 4. The simple noises of the household would startle him and he'd burst into hysteria. As he got older, he couldn't master using utensils, he'd just walk away (or run) for me at any given moment, and he wasn't sleeping well. From the age of 18 months to 2 1/2 years old, he would sit on the floor and cry all day long. Nothing soothed him. On the outside he was a sweet and adorable little boy. To the outside world (even family) he was a perfect little guy who was a bit quirky. At home we were struggling so much. His screams were effecting my older son and when my daughter arrived things got really hard.
There is only 16 months between them and at the time my daughter was born we didn't know there was anything wrong with her so the focus stayed on my middle guy and boy did he need it. On a good day I'd need two sets of hands and eyes just to keep up with him and to tend to all of his needs. As my guy has gotten older, now 10, he is emotional unstable with bouts of violence at home and school. It can be extremely hard for hime to express himself. So does he have special needs or is he just quirky and moody?
My daughter was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy at age 6, she's now almost 9, and that really jolted me! A few months into kindergarten her teacher called me in to discuss her abilities and besides being a sweet, loving and warm child she was falling extremely short in school. The simple task of sitting in a chair was very difficult for her. We learned that she didn't have any muscle tone to help keep her body upright. I took my daughter to the best occupational therapist in town and she immediately told me I needed to have her see a specialist right away. All I could think is "wow these people are nuts. There's nothing wrong with my daughter, maybe she's just not ready for kindergarten." I got an appointment right away for her to be evaluated by a pediatric pain and rehab doctor and not even 8 minutes into the appointment, he says "well of course, she has cerebral palsy". I thought I was hearing things. How could this be...she walks and talks, and doesn't shake; but the more I learned, the more I understood that she too had special needs. My daughter has worked her butt off since being diagnosed and has made incredible strides. I truly couldn't be more proud of her but some things will always be harder for her which just kills me.
Now if you saw us on the street, you'd never think my kids are any different than yours, well unless my middle guys is having a tantrum in public. We all really need to be understanding and a lot less judgmental of people. You do not know the inner struggles that they face and my kids are living proof of that . Please help me share that none of us are free from adversity and we should always remember to never judge a book by its cover. No two children are the same with or without special needs and each child's needs are so very different. What does special needs look like to you?