There’s a saying that children need to be seen, heard and believed. For “special needs” kids (and their parents), this should read “seen, heard, respected, and believed.”
As parents of differently-abled/special needs children we are often put on pedestals. People wonder in awe about how we cope, or tell us platitudes about how we have landed in a different but wonderful country, and we need to dream new dreams for our special angel children. But when we’re our in public, our ‘special angel children’ are most often stared at and treated like second class citizens. Our children are inconvenient, awkward, and difficult and it’s true that coping challenges us. But those who wonder how we do it are really just highlighting for themselves (and us) that they will never have to know. The truth is that our kids aren’t angels, they’re real people with big challenges. And their challenges make our lives as parents incredibly complicated, messy, and sometimes heartbreaking, no matter how much we love them. As parents who are already marginalized by politics, sexual orientation, gender, race/ethnicity, parenting philosophy, our own disabilities, economic status, blue hair and piercings, or something else that makes us unlike the CNN-camera friendly special-needs family America knows and adores, it can be harder to find support among other parents or be taken seriously by the teachers, therapists, and other professionals we often have to rely on to get the services our kids need.
My Baby Rides the Short Bus will be an antidote to the saccharine laced anthologies that exist for special needs parents. It will give punk, alternative, and marginalized parents a place to write about their realities. Readers who have special needs kids themselves will feel like they’ve found honest voices and community, while others will have a better understanding, and hopefully respect, for us and our struggle.