Every so often, most of the time when my defenses are down, I contemplate what it would be like to counsel special needs kids in the future. Since I have special needs myself, I feel like I could bring something to the table that other counselors wouldn’t necessarily have: understanding. However, while it may seem admirable for me to want to counsel special needs kids, I think of Grace, a 12-year-old girl I know who has CP. I think of Grace and how it is so hard for me to watch her go through the same pain that I did without being able to help her. However, I also think of the kids who would sit before me, faced with so much, who may only want one thing: someone to listen….or someone who understands.
It’s what I’ve searched for my entire life…someone who can understand. However, recently I’ve come to the conclusion that so much of this journey is my own inner battle. Sure, there are people who want to understand and who are willing to listen, but none of them can say, “I know exactly how you feel.” That’s not my fault, nor is it theirs. It’s just the luck of the draw I guess.
However, when I contemplate counseling special needs kids, I’ve come to a realization: It wouldn’t just help the kids that I’d work with, it’d help me too. I understand that without even being in the field yet to see it. However, another part of me has some doubts. Yes, it would feel awesome to help these kids that I associate myself with in a sense (even though I know that my CP doesn’t define me). However, I also wonder what it would be like being faced with disabilities day in and day out. Yes, I’d already be faced with it on a daily basis due to the fact that I have a physical disability myself. However, I just don’t know if the workplace is an area where I’d want to separate myself from it, if that makes any sense. The thing is, I don’t know how it would affect me. I don’t know if I’d feel like I was being put in a kind of box along with my clients: the box of disability. It’s not something that I’m able to reason through right now, since I’m still in college and won’t know my reaction to it until I’m out in the real world facing it one-on-one.
Either way, I feel like writing my memoir is one of the beginning steps. Even though I’m not talking directly to other kids with special needs and trying to understand how they feel, I’m dealing with my own emotions regarding my physical disability. I’m writing about what I’ve faced and how it’s made me feel, and I think that is one of the first steps if I want to consider counseling kids with special needs. Even though I understand that since I’m in college this is the ideal time for my career choices to fluctuate, it’s something that I’m considering. Though the ultimate goal is to help kids like myself come to understand themselves and why they’re different, I’ve realized how much I’ve benefited from counseling, and I want to give other kids in my shoes the same opportunity to try to move past what they’ve faced. Granted, it’s not just in the counseling. It takes much more. For instance, I know that without my writing I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today, or being in a position where I can openly talk about my disability in a way that is helping me coming to terms, and ultimately accept, myself. However, combining counseling with my own coping mechanism of writing has brought me here, and I only hope that one day I can give other special needs kids the opportunity to try to come to terms with what they have faced.