Beyond Beauty

I imagine that every parent thinks that their child is beautiful, it is the natural order of things as they are part of you. But Joshua has certainly grown up to become a handsome young man and with the most winning smile. Since he was small, he has laughed and smiled here on holiday more than anywhere else I know, it simply makes him happy. As  a result, I have captured plenty of beaming photographs while we have been away this week and so I have quite an album from this trip, what with all my beautiful sunrises and Joshua’s smiling face!

Joshua’s good looks will not make him any more popular, but his smile is definitely infectious and it wins him friends, even with strangers. He usually catches somebody’s eye while out and about and gives them a wave or grin. I can recall his  swimming teacher, when he was younger, saying to me that it was ” such a shame, as he looks so normal” and I was so stunned at the time that I hardly knew what to say in response.  I think that I spluttered something about it not being a shame at all, we thought he was gorgeous. She seemed to be suggesting that his good looks were wasted on a child with special needs as he would never grew up to live independently and find love, or am I being over-sensitive? Perhaps in her mind, to look normal was a compliment? But whatever she meant by it, what a crass, insensitive thing to say to anyone and particularly when she worked with special needs children day in and day out, she should have known better and I ought to have made a complaint.

Joshua’s lopsided gait, his big NHS splints and boots, his ineffective, twisted right hand and his behaviour, give away that he has special needs, even to those who are unfamiliar with disability. But there are many with invisible disabilities, such as autism, where the untrained eye might struggle to diagnose them. These are the more vulnerable young people potentially, as they may feel as though they can go to the shops alone or even play outside with friends, but their view of the world may well get them into trouble. If they do look normal then the world may not make allowances for them, in the same way that they are made for Joshua. He will never be out alone, he will always need a carer/companion and in this way he is protected, but in finding their independence, those with invisible disabilities need to be taught additional skills about keeping themselves safe. That is an extra dimension to raising a child with special needs that I have not needed to worry about particularly, as Joshua is always with trusted adults who will do their utmost to keep him safe.

But in the meantime, I hope that Joshua will make the most of his last full day of holiday in our Happy Place, as our week has flown by.

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