Special Needs Provides Special Opportunities

Maura - Western Springs, Illinois
Entered on February 18, 2008

This I Believe: Special Needs Provides Special Opportunities

Upon first hearing the words, “Special Needs” or “Disabled,” one may naturally jump to unjust conclusions regarding the abilities of the person in question. Offensive assumptions may be made, such as that people with disabilities have no idea what is occurring, or that they can not be taught, or teach others in return. I know for a fact that all of these statements are false. I have experienced first hand that people with slight differences, which are referred to in our society as “disabilities,” are unique people with so much to offer to this world, if it would only find a way to reach out its hands, and accept the gifts that they have to share.

The majority of my middle school memories include constant laughter, joy and humor. Incorporated into almost all of these memories, is one of my old, very best friends. This particular friend, made it his mission every day to ensure that I was smiling, or at least in a relatively good mood. Whether it took him “table surfing” or performing Kung-Fu in the aisle of the lunchroom, he always found that perfect way to make a smile appear on my face, even in the roughest of days. This same friend, who took me out to Oberweis each Thursday afternoon for ice cream, chess lessons, and long talks, invited me over as I watched him play with his tiny baby cousins with love and a gentle touch, and came over to my house to play long games of “Green Eggs and Ham,” was born twelve years prior with Down Syndrome.

I believe that people with special needs teach us more than we can learn from books alone. Of course, school and academics are important, and will take you far in life if you apply yourself and work hard. The difference between going far in life and enjoying how far you went in life is what I have learned from people that may be labeled as “disabled” but I see to have more potential in life, than anyone I know. In my opinion, leading and creating the “perfect life,” does not depend on how much money you make, or how accelerated you are mentally in life. Your life is what you make it, and how happy you are. You may have all the knowledge in the world, but you search within yourself for years and years, yet you are unable to ever find a true, meaningful smile. Where the students I work with, and my old friend from middle school, put on genuine smiles each and every day and enjoy who they are, and the lives that they lead. The small things in life make them happy, as they teach me to find happiness within myself on a daily basis.