What Having a Special Needs Family Member Means to My Kids

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My uncle is a special man and not because he has special needs or requires special care. My uncle is special because he has a heart like no other.

Born with an intellectual disability, his life hasn’t always been easy. He’s been misunderstood, prematurely judged, overlooked, and disrespected. But the thing is, you’d never know it by looking at him. With hopeful eyes and a perpetual smile, my uncle is a person the world would be lucky to know. He’s funny, mischievous, loyal, and kind. He loves animals, James Brown, washing cars, and strawberry milkshakes. But of all his favorite things, family has always topped the list.

My kids formed a special bond with their great-uncle from a very young age. They enjoyed joking around with him, playing outside with him, and creating masterpieces for him. As they grew older and became increasingly aware of his special needs, they asked questions. What happened to him? Why can’t he drive a car? Why does he need someone to help take care of him?

Sometimes our answers led to more questions. Sometimes our answers made them sad. [read more…]

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