How to Approach Someone Who Has Special Needs
For this week's post I wanted to talk about how to approach another individual who's part of the differently "abled" community. Since I've grown up with Michael my whole life, it's always been natural for me to approach another individual without hesitation. However, I've noticed that even some of my closest friends struggle with approaching Michael, so thought I'd write about ways to make it easier.
Michael loves to be acknowledged! Even though he's nonverbal, he loves it when others approach him and say hello. He might not communicate back in words, but he will always accept whoever's introducing themselves. If someone waves at him he'll wave back. If someone gives him a high-five, he'll always be down for it, and wait for a fist-bump back (Michael loves those!)
I know some people get really intimidated and aren't sure what to do, but Michael definitely notices if you ignore him. Others like Michael can tell if you're uneasy and uncomfortable, and there's honestly no reason to be! Even if you don't get a response that you expect, it's always really touching to see any form of effort put in.
Something I absolutely adore and love about Michael is his kind, loving, nondiscriminatory personality. Michael couldn't care less about your gender, sexual orientation, race, etc. If whoever approaches Michael in a friendly manner, he will always reciprocate back. I continue to be inspired through his language of love, and his behavior towards others is what I find one of the most important aspects about keeping and supporting the Down Syndrome Community.
If I ever encounter someone in the special needs commuinity, here's what I'll usually say to them:
"Hey I'm Julia! whats your name?" -usually with a handshake or high-five
And It's just as easy as that! Usually if they're with their parent or caretaker, I'll let them know that I've got a twin brother with Down Syndrome, and they're immediately reassured. Honestly, I can't put to words how meaningful it is to me when people come up to me and acknowledge Michael and talk to him... it really does make a difference :)