I think there are a lot of misperceptions about people with disabilities. Unless you spend a lot of
time with adults and children with special needs, you can miss what a blessing these people are
to our families and our community.
understanding of social graces and personal space. They may not be able to hold down a job,
may require full-time care, and may have to take a lot of different medications to manage their
health issues. They may need a lot of therapy and surgeries. They may look and sound
different. It can be off-putting, if you don’t know what’s beyond the surface.
More often than not, what I find when I get to know these “disabled” people is people who are
much less disabled than it first appears. Despite their struggles, they are friendly,
compassionate, and genuinely concerned about others who seem upset or in pain. They never
fail to show me unconditional acceptance and approval. They don’t even know me, but they
choose to believe the best about me and accept me just as I am. They never forget a face, even
if they can’t remember my name. They brighten my day every time I interact with them.
Making time to take a closer look, to spend some time, and to make an investment in an adult or
child with special needs is a rewarding experience for you both. Rather than moving past in a
hurry the next time one of them approaches you for a hug, take a chance and return it. I think
Bio: Jennifer Janes is both a volunteer at Runnin’ WJ Ranch and the parent of a child in the
program. She writes about her faith, family, and special needs at jenniferajanes.com.