I spent the day at the zoo yesterday. A special day devoted to “special” children and young adults. I don’t think special is politically correct anymore, but they are special. Children were there with all ranges on the autism spectrum and physical and mental challenges due to cerebral palsy and other afflictions.
It was hard to watch hundreds of these children, some too affected to even be aware of the day’s activities, except for maybe the sun on their bowed heads, or the sound of a peacock’s scream in their ears. I watched young men in wheelchairs with drooling bibs around their necks that held the words chick magnet and part of me cried inside, knowing that door in their lives will be closed for them. I give serious kudos to all the teachers and aides and the New Jersey programs that help these children. I saw the patience and hard work in controlling the meltdowns of some of the children. I saw the lunches thrown across the table, on to the ground.
Thankfully, these children have a chance to be the best that this world can offer them right now. Thankfully, we are opening the world’s doors to research and understanding, not shutting doors of asylums and institutions behind them. Today is the birthday of Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman, born in 1864. She wrote under the pen name of Nellie Bly. Her expose, Ten Days in a Mad House” opened the door to the atrocities and inhumane treatment of those considered insane. Those who would have been abandoned as mad merely a century past. Those never given a chance to spend the day at the zoo…..because they, themselves, were the caged animals.
Happy Birthday Nellie, and thank you…………