It wasn’t long after my daughter was born that I began noticing people around with special needs, particularly Down Syndrome. Prior to her birth I don’t think I recognised those with special needs around me. Suddenly I was aware of so many people with Down Syndrome — my sister-in-law’s nephew, a friend we worked with her nephew, a couple at church with a grandson with Down Syndrome, a former pastor at a supporting church with a brother with Down Syndrome. I joined a club that I didn’t even know existed, parent of a child with special needs. Special Needs were all around me and now I saw them.
Do you see those around you with Special Needs? Do you recognise those with Special Needs as you pass them walking down the road or in the supermarket?
How do you respond to those around you with special needs? Do you take the time to engage with them? Are you looking to go in the opposite direction when you see someone with special needs coming? Do you struggle to know what to do or say? What example are you giving your children about how to love those with special needs?
All around us there are individuals with special needs. It could be the child in a wheelchair or the adult with autism. How do you relate to those around you with special needs?
Your attitude is one of the biggest factors in how you relate to those with special needs. You might not always understand what they are saying but you attitude will set the tone.
Do you view them as a disruption? Your plans have to change because of someone with special needs. You can’t walk as fast because you need to push a wheelchair. Your plans, your agenda might need to change because of someone with special needs. Don’t view them as a disruption, view it as a time to an opportunity for you to serve.
Do you just ignore them? I have watched people just ignore my daughter when she wanted to join in or be a part of what is happening. These are the kinds of people that Jesus interacted. Think about it, when you ignore them you are acting with pride with the attitude that you are better than they are. Don’t ignore them, engage with them.
Do you have a list of excuses as to why you do not get involved? Depending on the special needs the individual might be difficult to understand. Sometimes they are focused on a topic that might not interest you. We have some fun laughs of some of the things that my daughter says. If you put aside your excuses, and get to know her or someone else with special needs, you will meet a person.
Have the attitude of Christ as you relate to those with special needs. As you read through the gospels and see the interactions that Jesus had with the disabled, look at the reactions of the crowds. Numerous times it is records that the crowds were amazed and praised God. So have the attitude of amazement and praise.
Action follows the attitude. If your attitude is loving and wanting to engage, you actions will follow.
Talk with the individual. My daughter was talking quite a bit the other night with friends about her dreams and plans for the future. Understand and learn about them as a person. Take time to talk with them.
Plan activities that include individuals with special needs. It might mean that you need to adjust how you do things. If you try one time and it doesn’t succeed, try something different, don’t give up.
Your attitude will be reflected in your actions. Have actions that value the individual. Reflect Jesus in your actions. Actions do speak louder than words.
Who are the people around you? How are you interacting and relating to them? Are you reflecting Christ? Take the time to get to know them. Listen, ask questions. See God in a new way and be amazed and praise God.