My soap Box:
Patience, understanding, love, acceptance are gifts we all need from each other but they are specially important for children with disabilities, of any kind. It is difficult to ignore rude, hurtful comments, to be left out and laughed at. Unfortunately this is a common childhood occurrence, however on a more frequent and constant basis for children who are different. Children who are already fragile due to any kind of illness, disability or impairment are easy targets for those who are stronger and more confidant. Self esteem is something we all have whether it be high or low, and how we perceive ourselves, abilities and worth are all too often dependant on others.
My hope is that we teach our children and ourselves to accept differences and embrace the individuality that we all have, to see beyond any physical, mental or emotional challenges. If you are a parent of a “high-spirited, intense child” as I am, academically, socially and emotionally challenged; you have most likely heard some of the same accusations I have from parents of “perfect ” children who do no wrong, who respond to their parents every command on queue, perfectly behaved and well-mannered, who excel in sports and academics. My hope and prayer is that the people in general open their minds and come to realize that children like mine, and millions more ,who suffer with these illnesses, are not bad kids, not evil or purposefully oppositional, but are lovable, kind, funny, smart and full of promise as is every other child. Yes,they may do things differently, loudly, extremely,and outrageously, which may be difficult for others to understand or accept. This was the basis of my book that I wrote a few years ago for Zack, No one is Perfect and You are a great kid (Amazon)
They need to be given understanding, reassurance, patience, acceptance and compassion. My wish is that other children who feel different for any reason find hope, promise, acceptance and the gift that is within them and realize they are not alone.
Mental illness is not a choice, it is not contagious, it does not make you “less than”
I hope our story will open the lines of communication for parents and children, friends and neighbors to discuss and explore behavior they may not understand. My biggest hope is that children who are seeking acceptance,understanding and answers be able to find that from parents, peers, teachers and siblings and to know they are not alone in their challenges. This has been a life long struggle for us as a family and for my son Zack, now 16.
Some days I honestly never thought we would make it this far. Maybe I just thought some big hole would eventually swallow us up at some point when we felt we could not move forward one more day. Yet here we are, we have made it, not day by day, but minute by minute. And amazingly, presently, doing pretty good. We started this business for Zack, Good Boy Roy, based on his fun characters that he draws. The start of this has brought him so much pride and hope, something we never thought he would have. So, I urge parents out there, who may love a child who struggles, to please encourage them in whatever there dream or hope may be, you never know when it may turn into THE thing that begins to transform their life and how they feel about themselves. Never give up.
This year Zacks new design for the Good Boy Roy NAMI (National Alliance on Metnal Illness) walk team won the National t-shirt design contest. This honor will allow his design to be displayed at the NAMI headqarters and he will get a monetary prize, which he LOVES !! Here we are at this years walk wearin the winning shirt. You can of course find and buy this shirt on the Good Boy Roy website. A percentage of sales are donated to NAMI to help Stomp out Stigma of Mental illness.
- The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why? (recoverynetworktoronto.wordpress.com)