4. You told me you’ve worked with people with disabilities. Why?
I’d say because I have a mild form of Asperger’s, but that’s not why. I wasn’t actually diagnosed until adulthood, after I started working. I began to suspect I was something slightly more than the average eccentric while working with autism disorders and recognizing myself in them. I bond with them very quickly and I have a knack for getting through to them because I understand on a soul level. As for why, it just happened, honestly. I did a special rotation in nursing school in pediatric psych because my psych professor noticed I had an aptitude for it. That led to working with children with disabilities in an outpatient setting. Eventually when I got into school nursing, the special needs kids needed the most care, and some of them require full-time nurses. I truly love it. Downs Syndrome is my extra-special favorite to work with, not going to lie, but autism is right up there. And many Downs individuals also have autism.
Looking back, I think I was being led in that direction all along. My dad even commented when I was younger that I tended to quickly befriend handicapped kids in school. I had a dear friend, Kit, when I was in elementary school, who used a wheelchair. My first boyfriend was intellectually disabled, with epilepsy. I describe him to others as Forrest Gump. He was “slow,” but he knew how to love. I honestly had to think for a long time before dating him because I didn’t want to take advantage of our friendship. But he was, honestly, the best boyfriend I’ve ever had. (We were teenagers, though, and my moving ended the relationship. I think of him often, though, and hope he found a woman who deserves him.)
5. I’ve heard some pro-abortion people say we should eliminate the burdens of our society, and they often include people with disabilities. What would you say against that?
I think some of those people have been burdened with relatives with disabilities with no support. It is by NO MEANS easy to parent a child with special needs. There is a higher rate of abuse, and though it’s horrible to me, I understand the stress. Our society needs to intervene and support those at risk. That having been said, the rewards are amazing. Yes, some disabled people of sound mind do become very bitter and jaded. But many more are wonderful, cheerful people who take life in stride. However, the abortion debate generally concerns those who are intellectually disabled, so I’ll focus on that.
I have never known any human with the capacity to love like a child with mental disabilities. They see the world as it truly is. They will take a dislike to those with malice in their hearts, yes. Sometimes (especially in autism), they take random dislikes. But it’s because something is triggering them, and making them feel uncomfortable, and they lack the ability to express that. Babies scream for no reason sometimes, but no loving parent ever thinks “man, this kid is just being a jerk.” Non-verbal kids do the same. But if you forge a bond with a child or a childlike adult, it is deep and intense. They bring joy to the world.
Back to my love of Downs individuals. First of all, they’re freaking ADORABLE. But just being cute isn’t reason enough. They are genuine, amazing people. They have a stereotype of being always huggy; this isn’t true. They can have bad moods and outbursts. So can any other human being. They get stuck in their ways, especially those with autism. I have a boy I worked with who about drove me batty with his “stimming” (a term for self-soothing behaviors that tend to be repetitive) with an ABC toy of his. It sang the alphabet and he would never get as far as G before starting it over. Sometimes you want to scream, “For the love of God, let the song finish!”… But when this same boy, who almost never spoke (by choice) came up to me when I was holding the toy hostage to get him to do some work, handed me his finished work, signed “please” (something he never did; he preferred the sign for “more”) and looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes and said, “ABC?”…well, my heart melted everywhere. And when I tried to help him with a new toy, and for the first time ever, he said “Me do it!”…I cried with pride. I always said if his parents didn’t love him so much, he would have come home with me.
6. What’s your favorite Bible verse and why?
It’s varied over the years. Senior year of high school, I listed it as one of the Psalms in my yearbook (I went to a Christian high school). Over the years, I’ve gravitated to the New Testament more. Currently, it’s John 14: 1-3, the “let not your heart be troubled” passage. I always know that no matter what, Jesus has my back.
7. Who is your favorite Biblical character besides Jesus?
Heh, that question made my mind go elsewhere. I found an old diary of mine from when I was 9 that asked “what is your favorite book?” Answer – The Bible. “Who is your best friend?” – Jesus. Clearly, religious training. I do wish I’d put down the answers that were not what I was “supposed to” say, just for the memories. But! Not the question. I like that you clarified “besides Jesus,” because He would have been it.
Honestly, gotta go with Mary Magdalene. The historical facts do suggest (along with an not-often-circulated statement from the Catholic church) that there might have been mistranslations back in the Middle Ages, and she was probably a land-owning woman (prohibited at the time and punishable by stoning) instead of a prostitute. But whether she was or not, her absolute faith in Jesus and her desire to follow Him is inspiring. The fact that she was the first He appeared to after the resurrection says much of their deep friendship. He WAS human when on Earth, and any human needs friends. The disciples were all His friends, but I consider Mary the overlooked disciple. The Bible doesn’t follow her after the ascension, so we don’t really know what became of her, but I’ve read many gripping historical fictions that follow her as she spreads the Gospel as well.
8. Is there anyone in your life who inspires you to be a better person? Why?
This is going to sound corny, but children, if you mean people in my actual life. My niece will be 2 in a couple of weeks, and it’s auntie pride, of course, that she’s super smart. But seeing the way children see the world, without prejudice until they’re taught it, is truly amazing. And I want to be the guide that they deserve, like the people who touched me in my childhood.
If you mean people I don’t actually know but would like to, Gabby Giffords. Her politics have no bearing on that. I’m one of the least political people I know. But seeing her fight to recover from a devastating injury and then inspire others while she’s fighting her own fight, like the late and amazing Christopher Reeve, is truly inspiring and makes me realize that my own problems are pretty trivial.
9. what is your denomination?
Non-denominational Christian. It is a pet peeve of mine that many denominations consider non-denominational folks to be wishy-washy, unable to really commit to anything. I laughed so hard at that when one of the girls in my graduating class, who’d done many mission trips and was clearly the most on fire for God in our class, mentioned she was non-denominational. I am fascinated by learning about the many denominations out there, and have visited many of their churches, though.