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Observations of a Parent of a Special Needs Child…Chapter 3 - Polarization

Updated: Dec 26, 2022



We all need to remember that there are no “good words.” Nor are there “bad words.” There is only “usage.” Or put another way, any word can be used for good or bad.

Take the word “genius.” “Hey dude, that was a genius idea” is a compliment if the idea was good. If the idea was stupid, “genius” is a sarcastic insult.

Countless people have told me how great it is that I “took on” Harlen. Certainly, they mean well but I didn’t “take him on.” He is a good kid and I love him. He wasn’t a negative in the equation. Yes, my wife is honest, honorable, and hard working. No doubt, Sandra is sexier than a decade of centerfolds. In

addition, she is over the top brilliant. I take her counsel like that of the holy ghost. But trust me…even all that wonderfulness would not lead me here if I didn’t also love Harlen. He was a welcome part of the deal. Harlen was a bonus.

I confess that when some have said how good it was of me to “take Harlen on” it used to take a moment to regroup, pushing back the ire. After the initial “slap” I realized that they had no desire to be insulting. Most people that have said this are trying to compliment me. Speaking of love, it is fun to watch how much it that he engenders. Still, like any special needs child, Harlen is polarizing. In my never-so-humble-opinion, this is not a bad thing…it is a blessing. After all, if someone doesn’t like your kid you don’t want them to pollute your circle of friends? I sure don't Sandra and I pray for the best and plan for the worst. Depending on when we meet our demise, Harlen may, or may not need care. Some have expressed how sad it is that none of his family are willing to fill any role in his life. Like the literal example of a magnet, polarization pushes away the negative forces and pulls in the positive. It is the opposite of sad. It is the very definition of perfection. I appreciate their honesty and letting us know where he stands so that we can plan accordingly.

Harlen, like all of us, needs people that love and support us. People that want to be in our lives.


Know that Harlen has some wonderful friends that will be there if he needs them. They do so not because of us, but because they love him. Harlen has his own fan club, his own tribe. To them, he is a joy. And a joy he is.

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