July 22, 2016 | North America: Michigan

"What's the matter with him?"

By Alexia Weber

Some years ago my youngest daughter (aged 4) was asked "what's the matter with him?" about her brother's best friend (aged 6, before they were old enough to be Special Olympics athletes) by a pre-teenage boy. The young man in question has CP and is in a wheelchair. He is non-verbal and non-ambulatory. My daughter has been around him since she was born. She looks him up and down, smiles and says in typical 4-year-old fashion, "nothing." He wasn't crying or fussing so he was fine in her eyes. Older child tries to rephrase: "Why is he in the wheelchair?" Daughter doesn't miss a beat and responds with "because he isn't on the floor." Her innocence is what we all need to focus on. There was nothing wrong with her buddy; he was just fine to her. Just because someone may use a wheelchair doesn't mean anything is "wrong." Now I know what that boy was after -- he was looking for something more specific he would at age 13 work with. Well, don't ask a 4 year old...

About Alexia Weber: I am a parent, coach, training clinician, volunteer, whatever this wonderful organization needs. Special Olympics has been the best thing for our family. Really helps my son shine and grow into the wonderful young man he now is (age 20).

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