They Can’t Treat My Kid This Way!

The Coming Attractions had only just begun when she exploded with noise. Her wheelchair nearly tipped over because she was rocking it so hard. Surely she was the happiest, most excited and loudest person in the in the entire world at that moment. Her parents were delighted with her first two reactions and trying to quell the third.  Happy, Great!  Exited, Excellent!   Really, really loud, …..Uh oh.

Literally, no one could hear the theater sound system. The other movie patrons were getting agitated. The mother tried to calm her blaring, vibrating daughter. The big screen demanded a big reaction and that girl was putting every cell of her body into hers.

 Then comes the usher, and out goes the loud girl. As she realized she was leaving, she quieted. More than a few movie fans cheered. Her mother was very angry, and hurt.

When people ask me about my daughter Sophie, I say, “Sophie is the happiest person I know.” She is among the loudest people I know as well. Like many special children, she can sometimes exhibit some socially inappropriate behaviors. The above story is hers. We were asked to leave a movie theater because she was unbelievably loud.[1] That time has to be her personal best in the loudness category.

As parents, it is unrealistic for us to expect everyone lovingly embrace our special needs children. Sophie is a fabulous, unique individual. Her special needs are an integral part of her identity; but everyone will not be her friend.

I don’t believe there are all that many card carrying jerks around. Ignorance and fear are behind much of the emotional separation between those with special needs and the rest of us.

Parents should demand fair treatment under the law. They should make schools live up to their legal obligations.  They can even sue our state, we have. But to demand that every citizen see our child with compassion, tenderness and friendship is unrealistic in the extreme.

Getting loud and militant about any unfair treatment of our children may feel justified. It may even feel great at the time. But as individuals we need to pick our battles. We have limited energy and lots of battles. Besides, we special needs parents sometimes get very, very angry at the wrong people. Our anger can have many sources.

A therapist’s office is a great place to vent our frustration, sort out anger, accept our grief, etc. They can help us with coping strategies, feeling heard and more. It’s what they do. Without the help of a therapist, special parents are operating with one hand tied behind their back. In one study cited by the National Institute of Health, nineteen percent of special needs parents screened positive for depression.[2] This figure is nearly triple the national incidence of depression (MDD).[3]

If you can’t make time for therapy, lack the ability to pay or you want to know more about getting support, send your friends and relatives to . Oh, we welcome special needs parents too. If the stigma of therapy or mental health care bothers you, definitely visit us. Send your caring friends and relatives too, if they visit, we will help them help you.


Note: Sophie now sees movies at a local church that regularly runs movies for a special needs audience. Local theaters sometimes screen movie just for a special needs audience at times that do not attract patrons, like Saturday morning.

[1] If I had just paid $11.00 bucks a head plus $9.00 for popcorn and $7.00 for a cola, I would have wanted that loud kid out too. Honestly, no one could hear the movie over her vocal celebration. Theater goers have rights too.


[3] This figure is more than ten times the national incidence of Persistent Depressive Disorder.