Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Not for a Nickel and a Dime

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Not for a Nickel and a Dime

Article excerpt

The lights... the lights are the thing. And the spinning. Sound and colors attract as well, but it's mainly the lights and the spinning. A ticket costs 50 cents--half a dollar for a few minutes riding the carousel, spinning with the lights and circling within the rotating wheel. Fifty cents buys little these days, so to spend it on a few minutes of merciful delight is well worth it--especially since for those few minutes, Will's squeals of glee sound no different than the squeals of the 10 or 15 other children. His gap-toothed smile is not out of place. His inability to speak makes no difference. He is a four-year-old where a four-year-old should be.

I go to the ticket booth. A kindly woman puts her sandwich down and wipes mayonnaise from her smile. "One," I say, holding two quarters with one hand and Will with the other. She tears off a ticket and directs me around the railing to the line where other would-be jockeys wait.

As we leave the ticket booth, Will does his "Will Thing"--part squeal, part dance, part earnest response to a stimulus I don't share. I don't even think about it, it's such a part of who Will is and who I am in relation to him. But the kindly ticket-taker notices. In a conspiratorial hush, she whispers, "Is he handicapped?"

God, yes! God, no! God knows. "Yes," I conspire back, wondering why she has to ask and why I feel compelled to answer.

"Then, his ticket is only 35 cents. Handicapped children get a discount."

Don't get me wrong. There is a place for discounts, a need for parents with financial burdens to be able to lay some of those burdens down. But the label is costly, too. …

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