Thursday, August 1, 2019

Special Needs ISN'T always Special Rules...

This post will probably incite some pretty strong feelings, especially from those in the special needs community, but I feel it has to be said. These are my own feelings. I think there is a fine line between identifying your child as special needs and expecting special rules. Recently I have seen a number of posts about children or adults who may need accommodations for their disabilities and while there are laws to protect those individuals, some people seem to be taking a little bit too far.

As parents of kids with extra needs it is our hope that our children be accepted, have access to their best life and are given the same opportunities as their typical counterparts. That being said, it is MY responsibility to teach my daughter to follow rules so that she and others are protected and safe. Anyone and everyone who knows me, knows that I expose my daughter to every experience I can. I work to create a "normal" childhood for her, taking her to as many family outings as I feel she can handle or benefit from but I will always try to teach her what is appropriate and what the rules are. They are in place for a reason however lately it seems many parents who walk a similar path feel differently, especially with a HOT topic. Pool use. I agree, its hot, we want to expose our children to the joys of summer and allow them to be where they may find sheer joy but a pool can also be a deadly experience if rules are not followed. Often in public pools there are specific rules to keep all patrons safe.

Our local pool, which we love is a wonderful little watering hole that allows my kids to have autonomy but still be watched over by myself and the guards on duty. Our pool consists of a toddler pool, splash pad and bigger pool that has a small water slide. The rules are simple. They are posted and stated. Yes, there are times rules can be adjusted to meet the needs of those visiting but especially in a case such as this, rules are important.

My youngest, who lives her days with autism is not able to understand the rules surrounding the slide. They are to wait at the bottom until the slide is clear, to move out from the slide as soon as you surface and swim to get out, protecting both the individual sliding as well as the one who has just slid. I don't let my daughter use the slide. It isn't that they are discriminating against her but she cannot comprehend the rules and could potentially go before it is safe and cause a scene when clearing the bottom of the slide. Its not safe. I don't expect accommodations for this and will revisit the experience next year when we join the pool.

As parents of kids with special needs, its important that we distinguish between making sure our children have opportunities and the best environment for their own personal growth AND learning that rules are often in place for a good reason. Inclusion, understanding, acceptance is necessary and I will continue to advocate for my child as well as other children who need my support but expecting special rules be made for our children in every environment isn't helpful for our children or others in that environment.

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