Special Needs

By Andrew Sorrell   I have always been pro-life.  As the son of a Baptist preacher, I was raised in a conservative Christian household.  We were taught that each life was created by God and that life was a gift.  It was something to be treasured and protected at all costs.  I never imagined that I would one day meet and fall in love with a special needs teacher and that my pro-life positions would be challenged and strengthened. One of the first things I learned about Hannah was that she had a sibling with a learning disability.  Shortly thereafter she told me that she had just received her Master’s degree and had signed a contract to teach at Hidden Treasure, a special needs school in Taylors, SC. Here is part of the story in her words: “When people find out I taught kids with special needs, many of them respond with “That’s great! ….I could never do that”. Here’s the thing though: I didn’t think I could either. I have a sibling with a learning disability, so I knew more than the average person about different disabilities. However, even while getting my education degree, my plan was not to work with kids with special needs. When I did my student teaching internship I was assigned to a public school that was the hub of disabilities for Greenville County. That was a jumping off point for working at a school that specialized in individualized education for kids with special needs. I was very nervous, but I knew if God called me to teach at this school, He would equip me. We had kids with autism, Down syndrome, emotional struggles, birth defects, intellectual disabilities, and more.” Several times over the course of the last year, I had the opportunity to visit Hannah at Hidden Treasure.  The first time I interacted with the children was at a fundraiser last November.  I saw them again when I surprised Hannah with flowers in the lunchroom on Valentine’s Day, and again when I attended the school’s play in May. What struck me first was that nobody seemed to notice that the children were special needs students. They saw smiles, heard laughter, and watched as kids surpassed what doctors ever thought they would accomplish. They heard kids who had hearing loss singing their hearts out, those with speech disabilities acting in a play, and those who had been bullied for being different blossoming and making friends. Anyone who went to the school saw learning and loving. You see, these kids just needed a little extra time, a little more individual help, and a whole lot of love. What we got back from the students was far more than what we ever gave them.  These kids are some of the most loving, joyful, and accepting people in the world. One thought that resonated with me all year was that pro-choice individuals claim it is a woman’s right to abort kids like this. They say that the mother’s right trumps the right of the child, and that having a child with special needs would be too hard in most circumstances. And yes, it can be hard. But it can also bring incredible joy. I believe every child is valuable and deserves a chance at life. Teaching children with special needs was a unique opportunity for Hannah to experience joy and fulfillment on a level most people will not be blessed with the opportunity to understand.  It was also a unique opportunity for me to understand the pro-life issue on a deeper level than I ever had before. Of all the moments that have made me proud of Hannah, seeing her direct the school play is at the top of the list.  There were very few dry eyes at the end of that performance. In a country where the political left is determined to celebrate diversity, I intend to celebrate it by standing up for the rights of the unborn, including those with special needs.