Kids are hard. I think that goes for both typical children, and for children who have special needs. There might be more hard things that we go through with Rhett, but sometimes Brooks can be tough too. Whenever you are on the outside looking in and think to yourself, “Having a child like Rhett must be hard,” I want you to remember these things.

Rhett is hard.

He works harder than anyone I know. The amount of hard work and energy he puts into everything he does shows through all of his accomplishments. He has to work harder than most to eat, breathe, walk, and communicate. He works hard day in and day out in all the therapies he has to do. Yes, Rhett is hard. He works hard, that is.

He loves hard. Rhett finds something he loves and then loves it with all his heart. He loves animals, books, and his family. He may not say “I love you” with words, but he says it with his actions. When he runs up for a hug, goes in for a kiss, or grabs you by the hand to lead you where he wants to go, he is showing you his love. Yes, Rhett is hard. He loves hard, that is.

He plays hard. From the moment his eyes open in the morning, to the moment his eyes close at bedtime, he is playing hard all day. He is playing, creating, and learning all day long. He plays just like any other child plays. Yes, Rhett is hard. He plays hard, that is.

I looked up the definition for the word hard, and it actually describes Rhett perfectly. Hard means not easily broken, and if you know anything about Rhett, you know this is true. He is so strong and resilient, and doesn’t let anything keep him down. Rhett is definitely not easily broken. I also found that hard means with a great deal of effort. This also describes Rhett because he puts forth his best effort in everything he does. Rhett is the definition of hard, just not in the way you might think.

Like I said before, being the parent of a child who has special needs can be hard. But parenting in general is hard. Let’s not forget that this journey isn’t just hard for the adults. This journey is hard on Rhett too. But let’s shift our focus to recognizing the effort it takes for Rhett to thrive and be successful in this world. This is a message to Rhett, but also to myself. Life is hard, but you can do hard things.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Let’s Talk Disability

Let me preface this post by saying that what I have written is based on what I have been thinking and feeling. I have been listening, researching, and reflecting from others who either have disabilities or from other parents who have children with disabilities. I am bringing this topic up because I think it is one that needs to be discussed more frequently so that it is not looked upon with negative connotations.

So the word I want to discuss today is “disability.” I will admit, this word has been a difficult one for me to accept when it comes to Rhett. In my mind, he can do absolutely anything he wants to do, which is true. The way he accomplishes things may look different than what others do, but he can still reach any goal he wishes. The word disability has become sort of taboo, which is what needs to change. I have had a lot of difficulty accepting that word as a term to describe Rhett, but why? Just because he has disabilities does not make him less. It does not change who he is and how amazing he is. It’s just another word to describe his uniqueness. Now I’m getting off my point. What I am trying to say is that the word disability should not be treated as a bad word. It is a word to describe a person, but the disability is not the person.

Let’s take a look at what the word disability means. The prefix “dis” means being the opposite. For example dislike means to not like something. So disability means not having the ability. One of Rhett’s disabilities is deafness. It has taken me a long time to say that word when talking about Rhett and his hearing loss, but it is the truth. Rhett does not have the ability to hear (without devices), therefore, has a disability of deafness. Now the point I want to make is that Rhett is deaf, but being deaf does not define his abilities. He is still able to communicate, learn, play, and be a kid. Having a disability does not mean he does not have many abilities, but those abilities may look different than what you are used to. His abilities might shine through with the support of an interpreter or special devices like his Cochlear Implants, but the abilities are there. Some people may have a disability of being unable to walk, but they are able to get around with a wheelchair. Some people may have a disability of blindness, but they can learn to read with a special text or walk using a cane. Some people may have a learning disability, but they are still able to learn when taught with certain modifications. With all that being said, a person who has a disability may need accommodations in order to accomplish all they are able to do.

People with disabilities can teach us important lessons. They show us that there is not one right way to do something or reach a goal. They show us that though there may be barriers or challenges, they are still able to do so many things. It’s time to look past the word disability being a negative way to describe part of a person. It is time we all acknowledge when someone has a disability, recognize there may be barriers for them, but see the person for all their amazing abilities. Let’s embrace the term in a positive light so that we may have a more accepting and inclusive world for those who have disabilities.