Monday, October 3, 2016

Speechless: More Than a One Hit Wonder

Bookmark and Share
Many of those in the special needs community (although were already rooting for Speechless) were waiting to see if the show would have ongoing and amazing content after the much anticipated first episode aired.  I must say I was as pleased with the second episode as I was the first.  Maybe even more so, as there are a variety of subjects, situations and discussions that are centered around a special needs family dynamic. 

In episode two, the viewer got a preview into what I like to call the "special needs mom push back," caregiver topics such as toileting assistance, financial strain homestead issues, and the independent thinking and personality that many assume who are non-verbal don't have, and the hardest one - trying to let go - "when he is your entire world."

The classic mom push back was hilarious to watch.  While most of us are not privileged enough to have the opportunity to lecture the school principal on how the "push back" actually works, the scene provide a sense of authenticity to the real show down that really exists and occurs quite frequently when you are advocating for your child with a disability.  The dad, whom viewers may think is along for the ride, with his head flipping backwards and arms crossed, simply signals that he knows that his wife's inner bitch has been unleashed and he just stands back to watch the show  - a show he fully supports. 

Two parts although still light-hearted in their presentation still had a way of pulling on those familiar heartstrings.  When JJ's new aide, Kenneth, is about to embark on a solo journey for the day with him, and his mother is having a hard time trusting and letting go.  (And not without undue concern as the aide temporarily drives off without him) - and knowing that you at some point have to trust another stranger and human being with the most precious and protected person - that sweet child that has indeed become your entire world.  Certainly as Noah gets older, my mind has not gone there a time or two.  For the most part I don't go there often because those feelings of ever being able to trust someone else to care for Noah with the same safety, tenderness and care that I do - feels unlikely and impossible at the moment.  But, that doesn't mean that I don't remain open for the right person to walk into his life one day who might come close to fitting my long list of caregiver requirements.

An equally touching yet complicated moment was when JJ's mother, Maya, walked in on a conversation between JJ and his aide in the bathroom.  A moment that gave her some hope - not total trust - but a glimmer of hope that perhaps she indeed had made a good decision for her son.  A patient and understanding aide, Kenneth, does a superior job of reassuring JJ that he can assist with his toileting needs and would be there to help him. Fair to say that pretty much is on every special needs parent's wishlist - someone that will be there for their child who genuinely wants to assist them and give them every possible feeling of dignity that they can with what is required in 24/7 daily living needs, personal hygiene and care.

Perhaps one of the most comical parts were when the DiMeo family approached their neighbors with a realistic picture of how they'd be voted least likely to keep up with their property.   While that part of the episode may have come across snooty, careless, or unconcerned, to the average viewer - to a special needs family it's representative of the financial constraints that really limit a family to have the resources to keep up with home repairs, remodels, and time constraints like household tasks like mowing the lawn, gardening, and snow shoveling.  And in the end the perception is from neighbors is that we are stupid, lazy, or in the words of JJ's little sister, Dylan, "idiots."

Speechless hit another second episode home run - one in which has scored the show an entire season pick-up by the network.  And special needs families everywhere are celebrating.   What disability topic would you most like Speechless to cover this season?


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.