Just As He Is | Spina Bifida Awareness
There is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more.
-Robert M. Hensel
My three year old is completely paralyzed below the belly button. You see, he was born this way. Hudson has absolutely no feeling or voluntary movement in his legs.
It took us months years to process the diagnosis and what life would look like for our boy, our family and our marriage. Many days we still take things minute by minute. Much of Hudson’s childhood is consumed with endless therapy sessions and medical appointments. Each of these serve a purpose, and help build his strength, confidence and ability.
When strangers see my little boy zooming around in his tiny wheelchair they often do a double take. People usually stare or stumble over their words. After all, he’s one of the cutest kids they’ll ever meet. It’s also not something they see everyday!
Some people know just what to say – “Oh isn’t he cute! He can maneuver that thing so well! He is going to do great things one day.” Others open their mouths and actually mutter – “Oh I’m so sorry. He’ll never walk? Isn’t that a shame!” Some people tell us that they pray for his legs to regain feeling and strength someday. And while there’s nothing at all wrong with that, it is important to love our boy just the way he is and not to place value on something he physically cannot accomplish. I am much more focused on teaching him to love God, serve others, to be an honest contributing member of society and maybe even some fun dance moves along the way! I am also focused on encouraging him to do his very best with the strengths and abilities God has given him.
Hudson is AMAZING. He is loved by many and brings an indescribable amount of joy to our world. His happiness and contentment are not dependent on walking. His wheelchair offers the independence and freedom that he needs. He gets into mischief, chases his older siblings and even runs over a few toes (oops!) Hudson is on his third set of AFOs (ankle/foot orthotics) and recently obtained his first pair of knee immobilizers. The combination of these two actually allow Hudson to briefly stand assisted. The standing position itself offers so many benefits that most of us take for granted. Among many, it prevents joint/muscle contractures, improves circulation and promotes proper functioning of his organs.
Hudson has the most contagious smile and enjoys meeting new friends. He is differently abled, and his “normal” looks a little different than his peers. I’m willing to bet that there are also quite a few similarities between my toddler and yours. Hudson loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, trucks, airplanes, horses and all things Elmo. His favorite snacks are avocados and chocolate chip cookies. He throws a fit when he doesn’t get his way, he can count beyond ten and can recite the entire alphabet (but only when it’s on his terms)!
We are ALL broken. Some of our brokenness is much easier to hide than others. The next time you see someone who is different than you I encourage you to initiate a conversation. Feel free to ask questions and to include them. After all, every one has a story, and your children are watching your example.