Not for a Nickel and a Dime

By Cameron, David M. | The Exceptional Parent, July 1994 | Go to article overview

Not for a Nickel and a Dime


Cameron, David M., The Exceptional Parent


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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