Would You Buy Your Special Needs Child a Dog Chew Toy?

That was where my sleep-deprived, over-stressed mind went in an aisle of the pet store while I was there to buy cat food. I was tired of finding holes in my child’s shirts and also terrified she would chew off a button and then choke on it. I had tried teething toys for toddlers, but they were made for adorable little jaws and tiny teeth that were just peeking through the gum line. I had tried teething toys for older children with special needs, but she ripped right thought those in a few hours. Even the upgraded medical grade versions were torn in a few days…and I would obsess about whether the bits she was chewing off were large enough for her to choke on it. I didn’t buy the dog chew toy because I figured it had probably been made of or coated in a ton of chemicals and had also probably not been safety tested for humans. But another thing crossed my mind – what would people think?

We are responsible for teaching our children so many things – social skills, academic skills, life skills, vocational skills – but in this case I think kids can teach us. When a toddler is frustrated about not getting a cookie they don’t care whose eardrums they pierce with their shrieks. When a child on the spectrum is flapping their hands in excitement they don’t care who is watching or what anyone else thinks about their actions.

Of course we grownups in civilized society HAVE to follow certain rules or we might be arrested, committed or evicted – not necessarily in that order. But isn’t there more room for deeply feeling an emotion like frustration or joy, or to truly experience something like the grass or the music?

Children with special needs growing up today have the advantages of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the inclusion movement and the many special needs events that are happening nationwide (and worldwide). Also, check out the This Is My Child campaign for more tips on dealing with ignorant strangers and family members.

At the end of the day though…when you realize all the other critics are silent, how then do you answer the question and be at peace with yourself?

About the Author

Rosie Reeves is a writer and mother of three; including one with special needs. She works side-by-side with her daughter’s therapists, teachers and doctors. Rosie has also served as the Los Angeles Special Needs Kids Examiner and serves as a contributor on the Yahoo! Contributor Network. She can be reached at rosie327@aol.com.Rosie is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

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