In my very first blog for Firefly Friends, I discussed an incident involving my husband's four-year-old cousin who called Cooper dumb and asked why he talked so funny.
I was very surprised that his mother, an educator at the local high school, hadn't taught her children more about people who have special needs.
It's my opinion that all teachers and educators should be sensitive and knowledgeable about people and children with special needs, since there is always a chance that they may one day teach a student with special needs.
Just a few days ago, my husband's cousin, the mother of the little boy I mentioned, proved that her son's ignorance about Cooper's developmental delays came straight from her, even though my husband and I have discussed our son's needs with his family and mine at great length.
It started when Cooper came home with a handful of really, really bad grades on tests he took during my last week-long stay in the hospital.
Because my husband must leave for work an hour-and-a-half before Cooper is due at school, Coop spent most of that week staying with my in-laws.
Unfortunately(again), my in-laws also do not understand that kindergarten is no longer a magical place where you take naps, sing the ABC song, and color; but rather it's a place to learn and hopefully earn grades that are good enough to move up to the first grade.
Realizing that another week spent staying with grandparents could prove very detrimental to Cooper's kindergarten career, my husband reached out to his cousin, the teacher, who also lives across the lake from us.
He asked that in the event that I must return to the hospital that she help Cooper with his schoolwork in the evenings.
He also sent her photos of the grades Cooper had received as an explanation to why he wanted her help.
She replied with a text message that read:
“Lol, that looks like some of my daughter's math and science grades and she's in the 4th grade! Surely kindergarten is easier than 4th grade!”
Perhaps my pregnancy hormones are to blame, but I thought that response was very insensitive considering we've made it no secret that school is a major struggle for Cooper, mainly because of his cognitive delays.
Sometimes, the kid just doesn't get it and it takes a whole lot of work and patience on my and my husband's part, as well Cooper's teachers, to help him understand something as simple as counting.
Now, I know that Cody's cousin meant nothing by what she said, because I know that she is a good person who sometimes doesn't think before she speaks.
I think we are all guilty of this from time to time, but this “incident” served as a reminder to me that 1) I need to do a better job helping my husband's family to understand Cooper's developmental delays 2) we must always be mindful of others and how our words may affect them.
Have you ever flown with your disabled child?