Those with special needs can teach us so much

To the editor:

It was moving to read Christina McHugh's June 11 letter about her multiply challenged son and the attitude of certain professionals encountered in seeking care for those with profound differences.

Having been a parent and foster parent of children with special and medical needs, I have encountered the same attitude, even if unspoken. But when you unwrap the package and see inside, you realize these children and individuals are a gift through their personalities, innocence and unconditional love.

These children can teach us if we listen. Kids with profound intellectual impairment live in the moment. They neither stress over the past nor worry inordinately about the future. Kids with special needs are often empathetic. So are their siblings who learn compassion and often go into careers that reflect that.

Kids and adults with extra needs are too quickly regarded as a burden to society, but how do we measure that cost? What about the eventual cost to society when we cultivate a mind-set that says certain lives are not worth living? What about the teasing and bullying and even outright hatred that kind of reasoning sets the stage for?


Thankfully most doctors and professionals we've encountered have a positive stance about the patients they serve. One supportive pediatric specialist recently said that a person who works with and loves these kids is a mensch; a comment I will hold close to my heart as I do all the special kids I have worked with over the years. If you don't see the worth in those who happen to be different, you're missing out.

Carol Mostrom Clark, Pittsfield