Disability does not equal dysfunction

I said this statement out loud at the dinner table the other night and my oldest cleared his throat loudly and said “speechless” under his breath.

Oh my how the world views that family on “speechless”.  It is true that looking from the outside in, that family looks dysfunctional.  The mom is always on a mission to educate about and accommodate for her oldest son with disabilities, appearing so to the detriment of the remainder of her family and her home.  The younger two children, both teenagers, have some crazy ideas about how the world works and can be left to their own devices sometimes.  The dad is very humble, appears to just go with the flow, and “follow” things happening around him.  Their home is not a picture of perfection, in fact, it is a dump.  Their neighbors, the school, the community, all view them as not normal, as malfunctioning because of disability.

The world views families with special needs kids as dysfunctional.

But the appearances are deceiving.

On “speechless”, the dad is actually a pretty amazing servant leader, providing an example of how to lead with kindness, and provide for his family balancing family life and work life very well, and choosing his family over his career.  The mom is a very creative resourceful woman always thinking about all of her children and their needs, being ready for their needs and being able to assist even stepping back as they grow up.  And the kids are pretty mature for being teenagers, having to grow up a little faster with significant medical needs in the family, and they know their parents are right there available to help.  Their house, well the family chooses not to invest time or money in material things.

How does the world define “dysfunctional”?  not performing normally, having a malfunctioning part or element, behaving or acting outside social norm.  Some of the synonyms: broken, debilitated, defective, wounded, flawed

But is disability really dysfunctional?   No, it isn’t.

Disability is different NOT dysfunctional

Just because disability is different than the normal does not mean it is dysfunctional.   In fact, we have witnessed how disability has increased the functionality of family.

For our family, disability has strengthened relationship bonds, the husband and wife bond, the bond with siblings, child/parent bonds.  Those bonds stronger because of the things we have come through as a family.

We rely on each other to give encouragement, and support and understanding when things don’t really seem to go well.  When the girlie has seizures, medical procedures, equipment craziness, the boys know they can ask all the questions they want and we will do our best to answer.

Part of that definition of dysfunction, makes an assumption that one of the parts is malfunctioning.  Sadly, that is the way the world views our special needs child, as malfunctioning and in need of fixing.

But, we view our girlie differently.  We view her same way we view our other children, as Psalm 139:13-16 proclaims

“For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.”

Our children are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Gwendolyn is a functioning part of our family, contributing in numerous ways every day, with her love of being with the family, her smiles, and her joy of life.  She provides more with her sweet spirit than could ever be imagined.

God defines the wisdom of this world: “If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”. 1 Corinthians 3:18-19

It all goes back to perspective – choosing to dismiss the wisdom of this world.






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