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Hope on Three Legs

Posted: 2004-02-21

The courage, no, more--the pure joy of parents who have children with disabilities, amazes me. Talk about hope springing eternal from the human heart--they exude it!


There is so much hope out there, and the weirdest part is, it comes from the section of society that is the weakest: the disabled.

I have a dog who is disabled. Yes, he is. No, he doesn't get any special funding or a 'part in the handicapped zone' tag, or any such privilege. Instead, he teaches me daily. You see, we got him as a tiny puppy, paid money for him--which is unusual for us--and then he grew. As he grew, one leg grew slower than the other three. So, most of the time, he runs on 3 legs. He weighs in at about 80 pounds too and that doesn't stop him from running. Like I said, he teaches me. Here is what Butch has taught me: 'Work with what you have. You have life, use it.' I have learned well from his example.

He doesn't know that it's a handicap to have 3 good legs and one leg shorter than the others. It is all he has ever known. He runs. He rests when he needs it, too. Smart dog. He knows when to run and when to rest. And he can't read or write or any such great thing as we humans do. He just knows.

Disabled human beings, I am learning, know a lot. They know when to run and when to rest, too. They learn to write and to read, when they are ready, not when the teacher is ready.

Parents of disabled kids are more creative it seems to me than regular parents, judging by the websites I keep tripping over. Check it out for yourself. Go to www.ourchildrenleftbehind.org and see what goes on. Read what parents do for their kids. Go to www.cureourchildren.org, and see what those parents are putting on line to help their kids be part and parcel of an everyday classroom.

Flashback: when I was still teaching, and we, as a faculty, would be told that an autistic child would be part of the classroom on a daily basis, or a child in a wheelchair, or a child who was born without sight or hearing or whatever, we'd roll our eyes. "Put them in special rooms," we'd mumble. "How are we supposed to cover all this material and take care of someone's IEP too?" we'd complain.

Back then, I did not have Butch, my 3-legged dog. He hadn't yet been born so he couldn't teach me the totally valuable lessons I know now. I was so ignorant back then. And now, I am so sorry and ashamed. (Ignorance really is curable.)
,Br> It's not too late for the rest of you, teaching wherever you teach, however. Search these sites. Feel the joy. Ride the wave of hope you cannot miss as you go through each site.

Opps. I hear Butch doing his 'woooeee woooee' sound telling me it's time to take him on his walk, run, whatever. (We have nick-named him Woo-Woo.) He never fails to amaze me.

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