Planning for Life

Laughter is the Best Medicine:  Humor in the Special Needs Parenting Trenches

Posted by Karen B. Mariscal on August 23, 2016

There are so many funny things about raising a disabled child. Often the joke is on me. Like how I am always weirdly and inappropriately concerned about whether my child “wins” at a Special Olympics meet. My son, who is severely autistic, doesn’t even know he is in a race. He still occasionally comes in first, and when that happens, I parade him around with his gold medal for days, so that I can bask in the glory. Again, he has no idea what the medal means, and in fact he doesn’t really appreciate the attention, but apparently that is irrelevant.

Or how I tend to get what I want at home by saying it is what Billy, who is non-verbal, wants. “Billy doesn’t particularly like that restaurant.” Or “Billy would love that movie!”

I truly would love to attend that event, but unfortunately my autistic son wants me home.

Our children reflect us. One of my favorite stories is about my friend Paulette, whose housekeeper Gloria tries to keep things neat around the house. Paulette has a daughter who is smart but unable to speak or sign, so she spells out the letters of words, by hand motion. One day Paulette had lost her car keys and was frantically looking for them everywhere. Her daughter was desperate to get her attention, to tell her something. Finally Paulette stopped and shouted, exasperated, “What is it?!!!” Her daughter spelled out, letter-by-letter, “F…ing Gloria.”

Now where could that have come from?

The other day I was sitting next to an intellectually handicapped friend at church. The minister made the same joke she has made at the start of every service for years, about adults who get fidgety, and my friend started giggling. I cracked up. All of a sudden that joke was absolutely hilarious. Why hadn’t I noticed before?

I’ll never forget diving into our local pool, and coming up hearing a lot of laughter from the lifeguards. There was my son, standing naked, having misunderstood what clothes he needed to remove before he got in the pool. At that point Billy was a man, not a boy, and his manhood made quite a scene. Laughter was the only possible response.

We at Margolis & Bloom love these types of stories. Sometimes laughter is all we have. If you have a good story, please share it with us, by posting below. You will make our day.  

Topics: special needs planning

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