Encouraging Words to Support Developmental Disabilities
Almost every human being at one time or another has encountered an individual with a developmental disability. Developmental disabilities are not always obvious at a glance although some are. While some people are drawn to those with disabilities, others may feel uncomfortable around them. Human beings are often uncomfortable with unknowns or situations which feel unfamiliar.
In order to understand how to support those with developmental disabilities it is important to feel at ease. At the core of every human being is the longing to be seen, loved, and accepted. Many of those with developmental disabilities are able to understand those basic core principles and behaving awkwardly may cause an individual with a developmental disability to feel unaccepted, or unlovable. God tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and furthermore we are made in His image. If we believe this as truth then it seems we have no option but to accept and love those who have developmental disabilities, regardless of our comfort. Perhaps this may be one area God is challenging you to depend more on Him.
After working with many families of children with Autism, Processing Disorders, ADHD, and Developmental Delays I hear parents and siblings express deep levels of concern, fear, shame and hurt over the ways their loved one with a disability has been treated. Most do not want any pity, rather a show of understanding. A simple smile, or greeting of “Hello” an offer to hold a door, or carry on a normal conversation. Those who live daily caring for loved ones with developmental disabilities are well aware of the disability and do not need constant reminding of the difficulties they face. In fact, many long to be treated “normal”. And yet, often those who have been involved in caring for those with developmental disabilities will have a unique perspective on life that goes much deeper than those of us who live “normal” lives. Maybe it’s time to find out what they can teach us, and see what we have missed out on.