Special needs families can be grateful for many things on this day before the 4th of July. Here are a few reasons I'm grateful to live in the USA!

Special needs families can be grateful to live in the USA. It’s true, even in this time of contentious politics and dissatisfaction with our government. On this day before Independence Day, here’s the quick list I scribbled down without breaking into a sweat.

  1. Special needs families can be grateful for freedom of religion. Whatever faith community our families embrace, our country allows us to worship as we wish. Better yet, thanks to the growth in inclusive ministry initiatives in all denominations and faiths, more houses of worship are accessible to people with disabilities and special needs than ever before.
  2. Special needs families can be grateful for Medicare wavers and government disability payments. Yes, the paperwork is terrible and red tape is sticky and getting stickier. But these programs are lifesavers for many. May we always feel more grateful for than entitled to them.
  3. Special needs families can be grateful for elections. They allow us to speak for our children and to become change agents on local, state, and national levels. Therefore, we should exercise our right to vote at every turn and teach our children to do the same.
  4. Special needs families can be grateful for freedom of speech. This freedom, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, is another way to advocate for our children. It’s also a way they can self-advocate and engage in public debate without fear. Let’s teach them to do it effectively, kindly, and with compassion.
  5. Special needs families can be grateful for medical advancements funded by government research. My child is alive because of those advancements. Perhaps your child is, too.
  6. Special needs families can be grateful for taxes. They seem excessive sometimes, but their benefits–public libraries, free public school education, good roads, safe air travel, Medicare waivers, to name a few–enhance quality life for us and our loved ones with disabilities.
  7. Special needs families can be grateful for Social Security and state pensions. These allow grandparents to devote time to their grandchildren with disabilities and special needs. In a few years, they’ll allow my husband and I to devote ourselves fully to special needs and disability ministry. I. Can’t. Wait.
  8. Special needs families can be grateful for public schools. We like to grumble about what public schools don’t do for our kids while ignoring what they do provide. Public schools have been the primary agents of change to create more inclusive environments for our kids. They have also been instrumental in changing public attitudes toward those with disabilities. Yes, much remains to be improved, but we can be grateful for what’s already been done.
  9. Special needs families can be grateful for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I remember how hard it was to get my dad from place to place in his wheelchair before the ADA was signed into law. More remains to be done, but we should be grateful for the accessibility this law brought into being.
  10. Special needs families can be grateful for the ABLE Act. Passed in 2014, this law created a way for families to save money for their children with disabilities and special needs. For more information about what ABLE is and does, check out this blog post.

So, that’s the list I came up with. What do you like about it? What would you add to it? Leave your comments below!

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