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Special Needs Families: What do they see when they look at me?

Rebecca Toal by Rebecca Toal Additional Needs

Rebecca Toal

Rebecca Toal

Blessed, busy mum to four beautiful girls, the youngest with complex special needs due to extreme prematurity. We are always looking for ways to ma...

Do they see a happy and active girl in pigtails, with big pink glasses, confidently striding down the street, with no cares in the world, grasping tightly onto her mother’s hand?

Or do they see a physically handicapped girl, tripping over her own two feet, ‘cerebral palsy’, being held up by her mother’s hand?

What do they see when they look at me?

Do they see an incredibly smart and social little girl, engaging and communicating on all levels, so  hungry for attention and interaction?

Or do they feel sorry for a deaf girl with cochlear implants, who is non-verbal and has obvious communication difficulties, assuming that I lack cognition or awareness?

What do they see when they look at me?

Do they see an inquisitive schoolgirl, eager to learn as she ‘reads’ her tactile and Braille book, excited by the different textures and feelings, and the high contrasts?

Or do they see a mostly blind girl, with her big pink glasses, struggling to make any sense of the book in her hands?

What do they see when they look at me?

Do they see how well I can express my emotions? I can laugh, cry, get angry, get excited, express love and seek reassurance.

Or do they assume that I don’t show any emotions or maybe that I don’t really have feelings the same as other kids do?

What do they see when they look at me?

Do they see a girl being tube-fed by her mother, enjoying the interaction around the table with her family as she sits in her activity chair, and taking small tastes of food by mouth?

Or do they see the limitations of my feeding ability, focused on my obvious dependence on blended food and the syringe and feeding tube extension?

Well, what do they see when they look at me?

I sometimes wonder if people see beyond my outward disabilities… Do they only see a girl who does not walk, cannot hear or see, does not talk, cannot eat… or do they see past my disabilities and look at my beaming smile, do they take time to notice how bright I really am?

What do YOU see when you look at me?


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