The small town of Special Needs

December 10, 2011

main street of a small town

image courtesy of incendiarymind via flickr

It’s been a while since Chloe participated in Miracle League baseball. On the surface, this is because of logistical challenges, but really, it’s because I never imagined that motherhood would involve hauling my kid to a team sport every Saturday, and I’m still trying to come to terms with this.

Obviously, I was fooling myself. My husband played just about every sport there was, and my brother even did his time in Little League. But I guess I thought my unathletic genes would win the day, especially if we had a girl. And when we had a girl with a significant physical disability, well, I thought I was completely off the hook. Listening to the tormented shouts of parents in the soccer fields behind our house, I always thought, “at least I’ll never have to do that.”

But I do have to do that. And yes, I’m very glad that Miracle League exists so Chloe has a chance to play baseball. But here’s the thing: that’s her only choice, baseball. If she didn’t have a disability, she could play soccer or rugby or  do yoga or hip-hop dancing or whatever kids are into these days. Or she could do none of these things. But she’s a disabled kid, and around here, disabled kids, they play baseball.

We live in a medium-sized town, but as a family with a disability, we also live in the very small town of Special Needs. As we look for services that are accessible and appropriate for Chloe, our options shrink to small-town size. In Special Needs, there are only a couple of schools. There are only a couple of doctors and dentists, and there are no summer camps or drama camps or art programs. In Special Needs, there are very few play grounds, and most of them don’t have swings.

It’s not anyone’s fault that the town of Special Needs is so limited. After all, it has relatively few citizens, and every year, it expands and adds more opportunities. But it’s still a small town, and small towns can be stifling.

In a larger town, you get the benefits of a diverse population. You can be exposed to different lifestyles and cultures, but you also have more opportunities to find people and organizations who share your values. In a larger town, parents who are looking for something out of the ordinary, something that caters to their artsy or literary or just plain kind of oddball values, can find places where other weirdos like them gather and begin the process of molding their kids into future high school newspaper editors or drama club members or viola players.

But in Special Needs, everyone plays baseball, so baseball is what you get.


2 Responses to “The small town of Special Needs”

  1. Cynthia Wood Says:

    You put it very well and you speak from all of our hearts.

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