I’m reading this book Shut Up About Your Perfect Kids A Survival Guide for Ordinary Parents of Special Children by Gina Gallagher and Patricia Konjoian. Because obsessively reading about FASD and special needs is what I do now. My husband is hoping it’s a stage. I’m only about 30% of the way through the book and so far I have mixed reactions. First I have to say their take on how perfection obsessed our world is today is spot on and I love the idea behind their “Movement of Imperfection.” The writing itself for some reason doesn’t snag me the way the Easy to Love but Hard to Raise did but that’s just style difference. The content has been really good.
Then I got to this idea – making up business style cards to hand out to people in the general public that seem or overtly act annoyed by your child’s disability. The text on the card recommended specifically cites Autism but the idea is you can make your own for any disability. This is where my “Hell yeah!” /”No way in hell!” dichotomy kicked in. I have not figured out how to resolve it after over a day of pondering.
On the one hand, I like the idea of setting the person straight in a low key way, which I’m unlikely to be able to do by speaking to them. It’s a whole lot more likely I’ll end up arrested for assault if their judgmental attitude has hurt my kid in some way. And I really do believe low key has a much better chance of actually increasing tolerance of difference than ” in your face” does. Somehow once my child is personally affected though – the idea of education and promoting tolerance goes out the window and a female version of the Hulk comes to wreak vengeance a thousand fold for each tear. I strongly believe that educating the public about FASD is VERY important. (I could go off on a whole separate rant here about how absolutely criminal it is how little is known about FASD but I’m going to restrain myself and try to stay on point. I think my daughter’s ADHD may be contagious!) So a card that could be passed off as we hustle away before the “Don’t make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry” transformation begins is a neat idea.
On the other hand – Isn’t that kind of like placing a large neon flashing sign over your kid’s head? I don’t want Little Man known only as his disability. He is so much more than that. As he gets older wouldn’t my doing something like that make him feel even more self-conscious and “different” (different in the weird way not the ”cool, I’m a unique individual” way). It also feels like it could come across as – I don’t know – kind of self-righteous and snotty which also would not foster much tolerance I am thinking.
I’m wondering what other people think. Would you hand out a card like that about your special needs child? How would you receive the message if someone gave you one?