There are some people who you know immediately have a disability. Someone who uses a wheelchair obviously has a physical disability. Someone using a white cane is clearly blind. Someone with specific medical conditions such as Down Syndrome or cerebral palsy typically have stereotypical physical characteristics that tell other people that the person has a disability.
But there are other people who have what are called hidden disabilities. These are people who may look like everyone else on the outside but who have disabilities that affect them physically, mentally, emotionally, or cognitively on the inside.
Parenting and homeschooling a child with a hidden disability can be particularly difficult. When a child behaves strangely or misbehaves and people see a disability, rightly or wrongly, they often attribute the behavior to the disability. But when a child with a hidden disability engages in these same behaviors, they are looked down upon...and so are their parents.
Before I had children, like many young people I claimed that I would never let my child behave like "that." Well, God has a sense of humor, because he gave me a son I love more than life itself who has a hidden disability. And guess what. He behaves just like "that."
I'll write more about my son's special needs in future posts. For now, though, I'd like to ask you all a personal favor. The next time you see a child misbehaving or acting oddly in public, please don't judge the child or the parent. If they don't have a hidden disability, you'll be demonstrating some grace and mercy. If they do have a hidden disability, you will be blessing this family even though you may not realize it in the moment.