Ryan went back to school today and his paras said he was energetic and happy. Travis spent some time teaching his paras how to handle his feeding pump and what to do if it kinks and beeps. He seems more tired than usual this evening but that is expected heading back to school after missing the last three weeks. His cecostomy is infected again so he is on antibiotics, but this time we didn’t put him on anything that will bring on c diff. He’s also gained almost seven pounds since his last hospitalization which is great! After losing 17 pounds in the last few months, he definitely needs to gain some of it back. And his nutrition is up to par now with the feeding pump so we are happy he is doing well.
Below are two of the ten part multi-genre project Brad had to do for his AP language composition class; his subject was Ryan. I am posting my favorite two pieces because the first one is great advice for everyone and the second, well you’ll see….it melted my heart. There is a reason God gave Ryan to us and a huge part of it is definitely the impact he has on his siblings. That impact will affect others in years to come as our older kids grow and make a life of their own. I’m so proud of each of them for their maturity and compassion for others. Kudos to you Brad, for making my day with your homework assignment!
I’ve encountered many people in my life with a mental disability; one of those people being my little brother. He doesn’t really have a physical disability, but his severe epilepsy and autistic characteristics have made it so his body, such as muscles and joints, are not as strong as the normal 11 year old who gets a lot of physical activity. But anyway, this is besides the point. I’m sure most of you have seen or had some sort of experience with someone with a mental disability. But, some of you may not have or may be uncomfortable with being with someone like this. So, I am here to give you a little advice on how to treat a person with a mental disability.
First of all, you need to realize that though a person is disabled, they are still a human. They are not to be referred to as “weirdos” or anything like that. The worst thing you could possibly do is to say they are, or look, “stupid” or “retarded”, which may have been a previously accepted word a long time ago, but now is definitely not a good word to call someone with a mental disability. This may seem like a “duh” kind of thing to some of you, but you’d be surprised.
Another thing not to do is stare at someone with an obvious mental disability. I can tell you from experience that when my little brother, Ryan, squeals or yells in a public place, and people stare for a long time or look at him constantly, it feels like they are disrespecting him and acting as if he’s a nuisance. With little kids though it is a different situation because they don’t quite understand yet, so don’t get that mixed up. Anyway, it just isn’t a good feeling when this happens to Ryan, even though he doesn’t understand.
Lastly, and most importantly, when you are with someone with a mental disability, be nice to them and associate with them! You will find that people with mental disabilities are some of the kindest and happiest people you will ever meet. There is a group of adults at my church in a group called “Masterpiece” who all have some sort of disability (though the majority of them actually have Downs syndrome). I have hung out with them many times before, and they are some of the most fun people to hang out with. With people like Ryan, it may be a little different because they don’t understand, but trust me, once you are around these people you will understand. It is important to show love and kindness towards these people, because they are who they are supposed to be. They were made that way.
All of this could probably be the same for a person with a physical disability just depending on what it is, but I am just speaking from the perspective I have the most experience with. But just remember, treat mentally disabled people with kindness. They are human beings like us, just with little quirks that make them who they are. Through being around my brother and the Masterpiece group at my church, and even some of the kids at school, I’ve learned a lot about kindness, love, and acceptance. I truly hope that you all someday will have an awesome experience with someone with a mental disability that changes your life for the good.
Though you won’t be able to understand anything about this letter or what it is, I still feel like I should write it to you. So, what I really want to say is thank you. Thank you for cheering me up with your sweet little smile when I’m not feeling up to par. Thank you for always being there to hang out with me and watch Spongebob on the couch. Thank you for laughing all the time and bringing even more laughter in the family. You are such a bundle of joy and light on everyone you come in contact in. Your constant toughness and endurance through all the surgeries and hospitalizations and doctors appointments shows that someone is definitely watching over you. I can’t fathom going through what you go through.
It’s hard for us and your friends to watch you go through what you do, but you know, you always seem to come out on top. God is definitely watching over you in those trials little bro. But, I think one of the most important things you’ve taught me is to accept. Accepting meaning that even though someone is different, or quite possibly disabled like you, we need to show them love. You can’t even speak little bro, and you still spread more love than any given three people I know combined! I now LOVE meeting and hanging out with people with disabilities because of you! This is why I thank you. If you weren’t the way you are, I’m sure I, along with a cluster of other friends and family, wouldn’t be the same. I love you bro, and I hope you realize that, because I sure know you love me.
your big bro, Brad