A Story to Share...
Hi! Today I was asked to share a story that happened to my special needs daughter, and we have many such stories, that help us give reason as to why we started Kindhearted 4 Special Needs.
For those of you that don't know, we have a special needs daughter that is 25 and through the years we have struggled with people's reactions to her and sometimes her behaviors that she comes in contact with (young and old) not knowing that she is special needs.
Sarai has neurofibromatosis which affects her motor skills, eyesight, hearing and her overall level of maturity is about 11 or 12. She has fears of people she does not know or any change in daily patterns, etc. She will only go to about 3 stores in our area that she feels comfortable and she had always stayed right beside us at all times.
One day we purchased her a cell phone and now she can shop in the toys aisles, she collects Barbies, and she can now call or text us so she gained a little more confidence being alone.
She has always been with either her parents, or sisters when she goes to these places. After a great deal of time working with her, she began to feel comfortable having a respite care taker that take her out a few days a week for us to public places, and this was a giant step since she has a hard time trusting people.
After going out one day, she called me from Walmart crying so frantically that I was sure something terrible had happened. She had gone to the Barbie aisle (she collects barbies and now has a successful Instagram) and picked out a Barbie that she adored and was excited to bring it home to her collection. Feeling courageous because she had actually gone to the store without her parents or siblings, she decided to go to the self checkout.
She paid and checked out and headed for the door with her care provider and as she walked through the scanner the beeper went off. She was scared and didn't know what to do as a security person came up to her abruptly, and demanded a receipt. It was one of her worst fear after seeing a video online about a special needs girl getting handcuffed at Walmart.
She started to panic as she looked for her receipt in her pockets and couldn't remember where she put it. As she was frantically looking, she said she couldn't talk, couldn't think, and another security person came up and demanded it. More security surrounded her.
Her fear turned to terror. She thought they were going to take her to jail and she would never see her family again. Finally, they realized it was her phone reacting with the scanner let her go. She was able to walk out, then broke down into tears and called me. It was horrible, it was traumatic, and it seemed so unnecessary.
This is when I realized, when I couldn't be beside her to tell people she was special needs, that somehow I need to be able to show people. She is unable to articulate it herself, but If she had a button, a lanyard or something she could show them, I believe they would have been more compassionate and patient.
I did end up contacting Walmart's corporate office and they said they would talk to their employees and go over the video tape. They asked for me to bring Sarai in so they could talk to her but she was way simply too terrified to go back.
I'm sharing the story just to remind people to always be kind and to have some caring and patience for people. This story is just one of the many our family has of situations with her in public.
I'm so happy to say that our wearables have worked wonders for her. When she goes now, she has something on that shows that she is special needs and we have seen the change in people dramatically. People are so much kinder and patient. It gives us so much joy and feel safer sending her out into society. And yes, she does go to Walmart again after some persuading.