Special Needs Children

Is This Is How Families Of Special Needs Kids Are Treated?

Because my son was born so early, we have many friends who’s children have special needs.

I guess I have never seen their issues as anything more that a consequence from being born at 24 weeks and I appreciate every milestone that they reach.

With that being said, there are many people in this world that do not understand why a child needs to be in a wheelchair or on oxygen to survive and they paint all children with special need with the same brush.

Last night I was SHOCKED to hear what happened to my girlfriend and her 3 year-old son (pictured right) while out for their first walk in his new wheelchair.

Here is the e-mail she sent me:(not edited)

Okay as you all know we just got Ashton’s trial wheelchair YESTERDAY.

Well I always take him for a walk at night. I usually go the same route so people in certain houses know us and say hi.

I walk past this one house and their son is in the yard with their dog. The mom is out there on the porch. As I walked by I heard the kid say “mom, that kid is retarded”.

WHAT?!?!?!?! ?!? I was just saying how one day I am going to snap. I felt my face go red and I just wanted to scream at him!

I stopped and turned to him and said, “What did you say?”

He said, “I just said he was a retard”.

I said, “He is not a retard. Why do you say that?”

He said, “Cause he is in that chair.”

I said “That doesn’t make him a retard. You are a little brat.”

It was THEN that the mom said to me, “Just keep walking”. She didn’t say ANYTHING before this!!!!!!!! !!!!!

I said “Ya, I will keep walking but you should teach your kid some manners”.

“He has manners” she said….

I just wanted to punch her. I kinda did a little laugh and said “Well if those are manners he has a lot to learn”.

She stood up and seemed to be getting as angry as I was and said to me “He has nothing to learn, you just can’t handle the truth”.

WTF!??!?!?!? ?! I had to start walking. It was gonna be nasty if I didn’t. I started to walk….about ten feet later the tears came. I was sobbing by the time I got home. I cannot believe this. I have seen this lady and her kids MANY nights and it wasn’t until tonight that he said that. I was having a hard enough time with the whole wheelchair thing but now I just feel like crap. Ashton is NOT a retard. I am just so emotional about this whole milestone of getting a wheelchair.. ..it sucks.

Why can’t people see these kids how we do!??!?!

This mother should have marched her little monster down to the sidewalk and made him apologize to Ashton for referring to him as anything but an adorable little boy who has a flashy new chair, but instead she justified his crummy comment by sticking up for him. Now he will always think that it is okay to talk about kids like this because his crappy mother didn’t correct him the first time he did it.

This family knows nothing about what my girlfriend has been through with her son and the lengths that she has gone through to make sure that he is here with us today.

The part that saddens me the most about this story is that this is the mom that slept in a ‘toy room’ at the hospital for 4 MONTHS because she couldn’t bare to leave her sons side while he was recently hospitalized.

She has pushed for every specialist and every doctor to see her son because she desperately wants him to lead a normal life and hopefully walk on his own someday.

After what she goes through daily, she doesn’t deserve to have her son ridiculed when all she wants to do is get him out for some fresh air.

When I see someone with a child who has special needs, I have nothing but respect for them because I know that they are probably on-call 16-18 hours a day looking after their child’s basic needs.

Whether we like it or not, this is how some kids are treated when they are in a wheelchair. I hope that this story will help parents realize that education and awareness goes a long way.


About the author

Lisa Arneill

SAHM of 2 boys and founder of GrowingYourBaby.com and World Traveled Family. When I'm not running around after my boys, I'm looking for our next vacation spot!


  • That is so sad. Being a mom myself, I can’t imagine having to deal with something like that had I been in that situation. I would have ordered a special shirt that says “I’m a BULLY and I learned it from my MOM” or a mom version, “My son is a bully … and he learned it from me” – and send it for Christmas (oh vindictiveness!)

  • This post made me cry, then gave me goosebumps.

    Give your friend a HUGE {{{{{{{{{hug}}}}}}}} from a virtual stranger and tell her that there are plenty of people out there who do care and teach their children to be tender and compassionate to those who were not born with the same vitality, vigor and health as themselves.

    I’m sorry she allowed these ignoramuses get under her skin like that, but it was probably the proverbial straw.

    Ashton is a very fortunate youngster to have a such a Mom behind him!

    My suggestion would be to find a biography of Stephen Hawking and mail it to them! Maybe the little monster-in-formation might discover that enormous, compelling genius can be found in a wheelchair.

    Thank you for sharing this!

  • Reading this story was heartbreaking, my own son is special needs as well,he had a brain tumor removed at the age of 5 and underwent countless chemo and radiation sessions and although he is now in remission. Intellectually he will always be 5 years old,(he is 16 now btw) that does not make him a retard.It makes him a survivor. I’m sorry to say I would have let my temper get the best of me and I would have beaten the mother senseless, as if she wasn’t already judging from her condoning such a remark from her childs mouth.

  • Wow. Please give her a hug from this stranger. It brought tears to my eyes to read that story.

    I don’t have kids. I hope to one day, but I don’t. I have a friend who has issues like the nasty woman with equally rude little boy. She doesn’t understand differences like these. She is pregnant with child #2 and I pray her kids are “normal” because I know she couldn’t handle it.

    I think a lot of the issue is that people are ignorant. Both in the sense that they are just ignorant to other people and their feelings, but also that they are ignorant to what issues some children live with and the challenges the family faces. That’s no excuse though.

    Before I started reading, I saw the picture and my first thought was: oh how cute is he.

    It’s a shame others can’t just look at a child, any child, and see the pure innocence and beauty they each hold. Regardless of if they are “normal” or if they have challenges like this cutie or if they are autistic, little people, wear glasses or actually are retarded.

    That was long winded, but as I said, it brought tears to my eyes. Please, do give her a hug from this stranger in Chicago.

  • when I first looked at this picture of Ashton, I was thrilled to see that he looks so happy with his new chair! THEN I READ THE EMAIL….and it brought tears to my eyes as i looked at the picture again.

    that is horrible. The woman is clearly heartless, and not teaching her son anything of value. I think i take it extra personally because the picture of Ashton reminds me of my son, Andrew, who is just over 2. Andrew suffered from a pre-natal stroke and although he is doing very well, we have been through our share of challenges as well.

    The picture of Ashton didn’t remind me of Andrew because he was sitting in the chair, however; it reminded me of Andrew because of his big smile!

    Please give Ashton a big hug for us – he deserves it!


  • This story brought tears to my eyes. I used to follow Ashton’s blog and have been touched by so many of the wonderful stories and milestones that Ashton has overcome. It is so sad that there are so many ignorant people in our society. Children with special needs are a gift from god and we can all learn from them because we take so much for granted in our everyday lives. Shannon is an amazing mother and as a Mom and Grandma I can only imagine the pain she felt when she heard that remark. I agree that that mother is allowing her child to be ignorant towards children with special needs. She should be teaching him to treat everyone with the respect we all as human beings so deserve.


  • I truly feel for your friend and for what she and her son had to go through. HOWEVER, since she herself is the mother of a special needs child, I would think that she would have made a point to tell say that “retard” is a rude and unnecessary slur, not just insist that her son is not a “retard”. Children with special needs are all different, beautiful and deserving of respect and basic human compassion, even the “retards”.

  • This just makes me sick to my stomach. It’s hateful ignorant people that are raising hateful ignorant people. It’s a dirty vicious cycle that I wish would end. The word “retard” should be banished from any language. There is no such thing. Children are children, and people are people. God bless you little Ashton, rock on little guy!

  • I know how she feels. My Step Son George, who has CP due to Shaken Baby Syndrome, goes through the same thing. Fortunately for us, its not all that common. Thing of it is, I would put George’s, or Ashton, or any SPecial Needs child’s intelligence against any “normal” kid or adult anyday. Just keep giving him lots of love and smiles….which is, in fact, what these kids do more then anyone else. Something we can all learn from.

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