I met a beautiful couple last week.
Susan and Chase Graves have a special needs child named Langston. He has Down Syndrome, and he’s just 3 years old.
I went to their home, met the whole family for the first time, and Langston sat in my lap, held my hand and hugged me.
Prior to that day – and frankly even now – I didn’t know a whole lot about Down Syndrome. You don’t look into that stuff until someone close to you is affected by it.
I think it’s uncomfortable for those of us who don’t have a special needs child in our family to understand how to work with them. We’re not informed and that ignorance can be detrimental to the child.
That’s why the Graves family got informed. They got in touch with Early Childhood Intervention (ECI), which helped Langston learn how to sit up, crawl, walk, use sign language and talk.
They know he will have challenges and may develop muscle tone and speech a little slower than his peers, but they don’t want him to be treated any differently.
I have a person in my life who was adopted from another country. He was never held as a child, prior to the adoption, and he has Tourette Syndrome, meaning he says and does some pretty inappropriate things sometimes. As long as you know how to work with him, it’s OK.
We’ve got to do our research and learn what these kids need.
As a community, it’s our responsibility to know what’s going on in the lives of other individuals. We’ve got to respect that some people may celebrate different holidays or traditions than we do. We’ve got to respect that because a child is throwing a temper tantrum on the floor of a restaurant or an airplane, that may not necessarily be a sign of bad parenting; that kid may have some other stuff going on.
Back to the Graves family. It was an eye-opening and incredibly pleasant experience. Langston is sweet and precious and as his dad says, he “has purpose.”
It really hit home to me when Susan and Chase Graves pointed out that all kids have challenges. You work through them. I had difficulty doing math (I still do). Langston had difficulty sitting up. They’re just challenges, and they can be overcome.
Let’s do our part to make sure all families in our community have the tools and support they need.
It does, in fact, take a village to raise a child.
April Towery is the managing editor of The Sealy News. She can be reached at 979-885-3562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.