October is Down syndrome awareness month, but it is also spina bifida awareness month, and mental health awareness month, and sensory processing disorder awareness month (not to mention breast cancer awareness month). In short, there is a lot of awareness happening during October!
My youngest daughter has Down syndrome, and every October I take this as an opportunity to share facts about her diagnosis, or share stories of how people with Down syndrome enrich other people’s lives. But as I parent children with disabilities (because my middle daughter has cerebral palsy, and wouldn’t you know it, October 1st was cerebral palsy awareness day), I wonder if all this awareness should be focusing on the fact that disability is a normal part of life.
Disability knows no bounds. People with disabilities make up the largest “minority” group in the world. Just in the Unites States, the US census estimates that 20% of Americans live with a disability. That means 1 in every 5 people has a disability.
But I don’t like to look at disability simply in numbers or statistics, because I live this life as I parent two girls with disabilities. Disability is so much more than a diagnosis, it is about people, it is about lives. It is about lives that have value, and meaning, and purpose.
There are several instances in the Bible where it talks about how each of us make a part of the “body of Christ.” We all have a role to play, we are all different parts of the body. We have different gifts, talents, abilities.
We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. Romans 12:5
So if we are to talk about any awareness at all this month, perhaps this should be our awareness focus: we need people with disabilities in our lives, in our churches. We all need each other to function in this beautiful body of Christ.
Ellen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor. Visit her at ellenstumbo.com.