My Child: An Introduction

When the little boy on the bus held back his tears,
people said that he was brave.
When my child does the same thing,
a doctor tells me that “retarded children are insensitive to pain.”

When the little girl who lives next door fought for her rights,
people called her assertive.
When my child does the same thing,
a behavioral psychologist tells me that “retarded children are non-compliant.”

When other children suffer,
people look for ways to make their lives happier.
When children like mine suffer,
bioethicists ask if it might not be better to end their lives.

Professionals tell me that I am grieving
… grieving for my disabled child
… grieving for the loss the healthy child that I wished for
… grieving for something irretrievably lost.

I need not grieve for my child,
perfect in his own way.
My sorrow is for those who cast dark professional shadows
and fail to see my child’s light.

by Dick Sobsey (1996)

  • Sobsey, D. (1996). My child: An introduction (poem). First published JP Das Developmental Disabilities Centre Web Pages.
  • reprinted in Hazeldean Hotline: Hazeldean Early Education Newsletter, (1997, March), p. 15
  • reprinted in Prayers, poems, and meditations forum. (1997) General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church.
  • reprinted in Das, J.P. (1998). The working mind: An introduction to psychology. New Delhi: Sage.
  • Reprinted in Partners in Excellence, (2002, Feb-Mar) volume 3 issue 1, p. 2
  • Reprinted in PLAN Newsletter (2009).

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