The Weird Hope I Have For My Child With Special Needs

I’ve watched this video of Jack Carroll auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent again and again. Throughout the routine the 14-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, poked fun at himself and the challenges he faces, opening with the line “Don’t worry, I know what you’re thinking: Harry Potter has had a nasty Quidditch accident.”

Jack is genuinely funny, and he’s got great timing, too. One of the judges called him “a comedy genius.” As I watched him perform, I kept thinking: I hope Max can someday make fun of his own cerebral palsy.

If that sounds weird, I can assure you, it’s not something I’d ever put down as one of Max’s therapy goals. But here’s the thing: Jack is able to own his disability. As he said, “A lot of times in comedy, your strengths are your weaknesses.” If you yourself  display “the elephant in the room” (as he called it) then it makes people more comfortable.

I think of the gapes and stares Max gets from other kids. And how, if he were able to be self-deprecating, it would make kids more cool with him. Right now, he’s at the stage where he’s becoming aware that he has cerebral palsy. I don’t know when and if he’ll have the awareness to joke about it, I just hope he does.

Yes, I do mind when comedians make people with disabilities the butt of their jokes. That may sound contradictory, but consider this: When a person with disabilities can poke fun at himself, it makes him less of a person to be pitied, less of a victim. He can bust clichés. He can shift the power.

And I want my son to have all the power he can to charge through life.

From my other blog:

Free bikes and bike lessons for kids with special needs

Really fun therapy for kids with special needs: It’s called “pinball”

And now, a word from Max’s sleep-deprived dad

Image: Screen grab/YouTube video

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  1. [...] out this Great Editorial by Ellen Seidman of Love that Max and Parent’s Magazine on Jack and her hope for her own son [...]

  2. by Gregory's mom

    On April 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    I can understand your thinking. Gregory is a 13 year old who has realized his Cerebral Palsy for a while now. He’s just realized that he’s funny, in fact, he’s hilarious. My oldest daughter has bipolar disorder, as do I, and we make jokes a lot about it. Gregory has made jokes about his disability, that aren’t really funny, we smile and go on, but he thinks they are. You know what they say: Laughter is the best medicine!

  3. by Kristi Grimm

    On May 1, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    I just wanted to take the time to praise you for your “Weird Hope.” Because I don’t think it is weird at all. I became a paraplegic at the age of 15 and have now been in a wheelchair for 26yrs. I can not tell you how important laughter is for someone with special needs! Thank you for sharing the u-tube clip…fantastic! Blessings to you and your son!