|Who's to say this guy isn't normal?|
When I told my boys about Silas' three-week trial, Nate (like the adoring big brother he is) gasped, hugged Silas, and exclaimed, "Now you'll be normal!"
A lot of progress has been made in "normalizing" disabilities. We have laws in place to prevent kids from discrimination. Our city is currently building a state of the art, fully accessible playground so that even children with wheelchairs can play, climb, swing, and have a blast. We celebrate the Special Olympics, we post buttons on our blogs raising special-needs awareness, and we have weeks of the year devoted to all kinds of syndromes, disorders, and diseases. Kids with disabilities are often integrated into mainstream classrooms in school and get to interact with their able-bodied peers. I am so thankful to be raising my tube-fed son in a world that is more tolerant, more gracious, and more accepting than it was when I was a child.
Unfortunately, kids literature seems to be on the lagging end of the progressive movement to normalize disabilities. How many books can you name about kids with autism, or cerebral palsy, or a chromosomal abnormality? If your son has a feeding tube like mine, can you just walk into Barnes and Noble and ask for a book about a tube-fed child?
When I started writing My Solar-Powered History series, I decided (at the last minute, actually) to give one of the characters a feeding tube. It's not a major part of the plot. The fact that one of the Otis boys has special needs is not the main focus of the book. It wouldn't even count as a sub-plot, in my opinion.
I see great promise for children these days who grow up with disabilities. And I hope that in some small way, my series about a boy who just happens to get his nourishment in a different way than us "normal" folks will help pave the way for further normalization of kids with disabilities in children's literature, and maybe make one or two other tube-fed kids like Silas very, very happy.
Random Fact #23: I spent about two weeks homeless after I graduated college and didn't know what to do once I was "all growed up."
Check It Out: What, No Sushi? (the first book in My Solar-Powered History series) is on sale now!
Blog Love: The Thursday's Children blog hop is a chance for authors to write about what inspires them. Thanks again to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez for hosting, and everyone else ... consider yourselves invited to join the blog hop fun!