Clearer at a Distance


Cindi Ferrini shares her experience and the lessons she's learned for parenting an adult child with special needs.

Seldom, as a parent of an adult child with special needs, do I get to “see” my son at a distance. He is always up-close and right by my side as I’m helping meet his needs in many areas, including:

  • Showering
  • Shaving
  • Cutting food
  • Getting clothing on/off
  • Maneuvering a curb
  • Walking through a crowd
  • Getting through a rough discipline issue

…and I find that everything is simply NORMAL to me. It’s normal to help him in so many ways, and seeing him close-up, I don’t get to see what others see at a distance—until I pay closer attention.

When Joey leaves his supervised place of employment—along with a group of others with special needs—I see some things that become very clear to me as I wait in my car (at a distance)… and not just about my son, but about those with whom he works:

-  Every person with special needs exiting that building has a smile on their face.

-  Each person with special needs is looking out for the one in front of them and the one behind them. They hold doors for each other and wait for them to go through.

-  None of them is frustrated by the person using the walker.

-  No one is trying to get around the older gentleman in the wheelchair.

-  Everyone is waiting their turn not rushing the slower person along.

-  If they wait for 10 or 40 minutes for their ride, there is not one complaint. Neither the time nor the wait is an issue.

-  Those who are more able-bodied hold the door for those whose hands must maneuver a wheelchair, walker or other mobile device.

-  I don’t see anyone trying to compete. They help each other and have kind words for each other.

-  They laugh a lot!

-  Though each of them have an awkward and unsteady gait, there is something stable about them as a person—I think they are perfectly content in who and where they are—in life and at work.

I know others may look at my son at a distance and wonder “what’s wrong” as they try to figure things out because of the way he walks, his lack of ability to speak and express himself, his expressions, his frustrations, and even his extreme patience to just sit and wait; but I also know from this little exercise, that some of us (me included) have a lot to learn. When we take the time to look and learn, some things become clearer at a distance!


Written by Cindi Ferrini 

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