Who Has Special Needs?
As a two-year-old with Down syndrome growing up in New York City, my daughter Caily has been in boot camp since the age of eight weeks. NYC has one of the best Early Intervention programs in the world. Caily has a bewildering schedule of all kinds of therapy provided by superb and dedicated therapists. She enjoys her sessions immensely – she calls therapy “play”.
Caily particularly enjoys her Physical Therapy sessions with Lisa and last week, Lisa took her to the communal playground outside our building to allow play with the other children to form part of the session.
All the kids were running around squealing and giggling as young kids do. All of them that is except for Angie (*not her real name). Angie is the same age as Caily and has cerebral palsy. She is cognitively fine but has motor difficulties and is not yet walking. This makes her apprehensive to join in with the other kids.
My two-year old so-called special needs child, Caily, noticed that Angie was sitting by herself, stopped playing and slowly walked over to her. She sat down next to her and said, “Hi” in a gentle voice. She then took Angie’s hand and held it for a few moments before gently stroking her cheek, giving her a kiss and a big hug and began coaxing her to come join in with the other kids.
What a gentle and loving neshama lives within this little girl? A vessel for pure love and unconditional giving. It makes me wonder while I arrange another grueling week of therapies for Caily – are we perhaps the ones with the Special Needs?
Originally published: November 10, 2010