To our loving God and Creator aren’t we all special? We each are granted gifts that are unique and which no one else in the world has. We look different than others. Some of us are outgoing and others of us are shy or introverted. Some of us are bookworms and some are athletes. Others have gifted left brains who seem to be destined to be scientists, engineers, mathematicians or software developers.
There are also those who are anchored in the wealth of the right brain. To be lawyers, authors, speakers, songwriters, bloggers, poets or artists.
All are children of God like me. But some besides being special to God, have special needs. Whether due to DNA, trauma, accident, death of a loved one, or disease, need a helping hand in order to develop and achieve God-given talents.
The home, school, or workplace needs to provide accommodations so that the riches in the child can flower and live out the coil of potentiality God gave them. Without those accommodations, the life and dreams of such children will die. The loss will not only be felt by the child but, so will the world. The measure of such a loss is incalculable.
From reading my book, Bending Angels, you know my special needs resulted from polio. One set of my needs centered on accessibility. The wheelchair ramp installed by Roy Metcalf at Cy-Fair High School. The ramp put in front of Townes Hall at the University of Texas School of Law. But, gaining access to a school of learning just gets you in the front door. That alone to millions of disabled children is meaningless without accommodations to ease the barrier to achievement.
On June 6, 1972, I attended my first law school class. At that time there was no ADA and other requirements in place to address my needs. My first professor was the esteemed Robert Hamilton. Since I could not take comprehensive notes due to weak hands which tired easily, I had a tape recorder on my desk next to my law book. After class, I intended to play the tape back slowly and pause as needed to complete my notes. As the class started Professor Hamilton stopped talking. He marched up the steps from the podium in the sunken classroom. Then, stood at my wheelchair and said, “You will not be allowed to record my lectures. You have to learn in my class like every other student. There will be no exceptions for you.”
I was already concerned about competing with many other classmates from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia University. Now, I was devastated. I was destined to fail. Thankfully, the next day, T.J. Gibson, Dean of Students, met with Professor Hamilton and instructed him to allow me to record the lectures. He complied.
The day came for me to take my three-hour final exam. I was told by Dean Gibson not to worry about writing too slow. That I was to be given additional time to rest my hand and complete the exam. As the proctor handed me the Contracts final exam, she said, “Professor Hamilton told me that he was not complying with Dean Gibson’s directive to afford you additional time to take the exam. He said you must do what every other student does in taking the exam.” I was in tears. I completed about two-thirds of the exam. A few days later I got my results. A grade of 62. The second-lowest grade in the class of 100 students.
In tears, I went to see Dean Gibson. Unexpectedly, Dean Gibson looked at me and said, “I do not know what is wrong with Professor Hamilton. I am so proud of you, Jack. That is such a great result under the conditions you took the exam.”
Fortunately, the second half of Contracts was taught by Professor Larry Palmer from Rutgers Law School. When that six-week semester was completed, I sat for the three-hour final exam and was afforded additional writing time. I made a 92. For all my remaining law school classes, I received additional time. I became a member of Phi Delta Phi, a membership qualification of being in the top ten percent of the class.
Without a tape recorder and additional exam time, I would’ve failed. I would never have become a family law and collaborative divorce attorney. My life’s work of contributing to healing others would never have happened.
God has spoken to us in Scripture to include His disabled children in our walks of faith.
“He said also to the man who had invited him, ‘When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.'”
Let us pray together.
Dear God, please help me and all those in authority in education and in the workplace to recognize the special needs of Your disabled children.
God, please empower me and those in authority to fully understand the needs of Your disabled children and in compassion provide what is needed to fulfill their potential.
God, please grant strength to those who witness indifference to the needs of disabled children, and for them to speak up and to demand that they be treated just as special as You treat all Your children.
God, in heaven our bodies and minds will be perfect. But, on Earth, we must invite people from all walks of life to be part of your Kingdom on Earth.
Mankind’s greatest disability is ignorance and indifference. The greatest accommodations we can provide to disabled children are understanding, compassion, and Your love. Amen
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If you want to purchase for yourself or a friend a copy of Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love or Prayerful Passages: Asking God’s Help in Reconciliation, Separation or Divorce, please click on here to go to Amazon.
Jack H. Emmott is a Senior Counsel of Gray, Reed & McGraw, LLP, a 145-lawyer full-service firm in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, a Board-Certified Family Law and Master Credentialed Collaborative Law Professional Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Author, Entrepreneur, and Inspirational Speaker. For more information about Jack or his latest book, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love, go to the Bending Angel website.