There are a lot of misconceptions about those that are Specially-Abled. One of these people taught me some of her thinking and doing patterns.
Julie Lyle was about 16 when I met her. She is now a middle-aged person living in a much warmer climate than Columbus, OH. Her mother, Lori, took good care of Julie, but found that Julie was a person of strong opinions and straight talk. Julie has a mind of her own, and is somewhat dedicated to getting what she wants right now. She apparently inherited these traits from her mom, and her mom persists in helping Julie continue to grow and prosper.
While attending a spiritualist church in Columbus, Ohio, there was a Wednesday class where the attendees did spiritual healing and gave spiritual messages. Participation was voluntary, but each person was given an opportunity to give/get healing and give/get spiritual messages.
We were near the end of a Wednesday class when we gave spiritual messages. It was a small group that night and we had gone around the circle when the leader asked Lori if she had messages. She did, and she gave them out. Julie was the last person in the circle, and the leader asked if Julie had any messages. She responded, “Yes, she did”. We had never had Julie do readings before. We were pleasantly surprised.
The first message I remember was to me. Julie said I worked too hard (type-A, I admit), and that I should see her mom, Lori, for massage more often. The second message was to a guy that lived above the church meeting room. He was a heavy drinker. Julie told him he needed to drink more tea and less beer. A third person was quite heavy. Julie told that person “you can’t fill up your emptiness inside by eating. You need to stop trying to do that”. The messages continued in this straightforward manner until she had read for everyone. We all thanked her.
At the time, there was an event called The Universal Light Expo in the old Veteran’s Memorial. The church rented a table and we gave spiritual readings at a bargain price to introduce the church. When Julie and Lori came by, I asked Julie if she’d like to give readings. She gave an enthusiastic Yes response. When people came by our table, I noticed that they were choosing me and not Julie. I made a sign that said “Two readings are $10 from me and Julie. If you aren’t satisfied with your readings, you get your money back”. This was quite a bargain. The church wanted to introduce people to our services.
Business picked up; and nobody wanted their money back. After about an hour, Julie told her mom Lori that she was hungry and she needed more pizza. Lori was trying to help Julie not gain weight so Lori refused the request. Julie said she couldn’t do any more readings until she got fed. Lori did not give in, and Julie went on strike by doing no more readings. This ended an opportunity to show people that specially-abled people can do amazing things most other people can’t/don’t do.
There are many forms of being specially-abled. Julie was born with a condition many people call a handicap, and she has recognizable features of Downs Syndrome. Julie is different, but she was not handicapped in many areas. She was a great worker in a restaurant doing a job that sometimes didn’t get done well by others. Jewels cheerfully did the work, and was glad that she could earn some money.
Julie was an speaker at Special Olympics Ohio events and ribbon cuttings. After moving out of Ohio, she became an excellent artist and decorates pottery that she casts. She has a special relationship with animals. Julie is state ambassador and spokes person for the Best Buddy organization in FL. They pair specially-abled people with a mentor friend.
There are other specially-abled people that have had major traumas to their bodies and minds, including people with PTSD, sports accidents, car accidents, and genetic disorders. These same people engage in sports, do jobs, and raise families. They often succeed where “normal people” fail because their efforts to overcome their injuries have given them new skills and determination to succeed beyond anyone’s expectations.
Every person has areas of strengths and weaknesses to use or overcome in going through their lives. The people that can juggle many things at once may have worked to overcome attention deficit issues. Those that stutter can achieve great things, including our President Biden. Therapists that began their lives getting therapy from others may be more compassionate and understanding than those that never experienced those life issues.
The Olympic Games include a group of dedicated athletes that have worked years and stayed dedicated to their sports. A second group of dedicated athletes are those performing as specially-abled people, with competitions like Paralympics, Special Olympics, and other challenges such as deafness. If you ask an Olympic Games participant if they could do what those facing the challenges in the Special Olympics, many would tell you they cannot do what these other athletes do. The common factor is dedication and perseverance to achieve being the very best that they can.
When you interact with specially-abled people, remember that they may be much more capable than you expect. Everyone has something to share with everyone else. We’re all here for a reason. Appreciate everyone.