What We Can Learn From Someone With Special Needs

For some people, the topic of developmental disabilities makes them uncomfortable. This is something I never understood, because it’s something I have always been so passionate about.

I’m honestly not sure what sparked my passion. Maybe it was seeing the way my cousin Erin is with her brother Dylan. When Dylan was 4 years old, he was diagnosed with nonverbal autism. Dylan can’t speak, but he doesn’t need words to show Erin how much he loves her. He shows it with the way he smiles when she says his name. He shows it with the way he laughs when she’s joking around with him. He shows it in the way he claps and bounces up and down after they’ve been laughing together. It’s nearly impossible to see the two of them interact and not smile.

I can whole-heartedly say that nobody in my family would be the same if Dylan wasn’t in the picture. I’m sure families with special needs members all over the world could vouch for that statement. When you’re lucky enough to know someone with special needs, you learn a lot. There are time’s when you’ll learn more in one day than some people learn in a lifetime. People with special needs teach us not to take anything for granted. Things such as speaking, walking and even being able to feed ourselves are things many take for granted everyday.

Meanwhile, there are some people who will never get to do these things, and that’s a moving thing once you recognize it. People like Dylan, and many others all over the world, teach us that actions truly do speak louder than words. What sometimes cannot be expressed through speech can be expressed through actions, and smiles, and laughter. Another lesson that can be learned is that being different is a beautiful thing. Just because someone doesn’t learn the same way as you, or express themselves the same way as you doesn’t make them any less of a person, it just makes them beautiful in their own way. But the biggest lesson that can be learned is to appreciate everything you have, and not to focus on the things you don’t.

I’m not necessarily sure what sparked my passion. Maybe it was Erin and Dylan, or maybe it was something else. But whatever it was, I am beyond thankful for it. I have been led to some of the most amazing people because of it. I’ve learned lessons that inspire me everyday, and hopefully I can use these lessons to inspire others. There’s a quote that says “When you judge someone based on a diagnosis, you miss out on their abilities, beauty and uniqueness,” and I can promise you, those are three things you do not want to miss out on.