My family can relate to the "Speechless" TV family in many ways.
JJ, the oldest son on the show, has cerebral palsy. He uses a wheelchair and a communication board with a laser pointer to talk. My oldest son, Wade, has cerebral palsy. He also uses a wheelchair and a communication device with eye gaze. The actor who plays JJ actually has a disability in real life! The show proves that people with disabilities can be great actors, too.
The mom in this TV family is passionate about inclusion. She advocates very hard for her son. The whole family embraces disability. They don’t want pity. Their life is chaotic and messy. Their sense of humor and out-of-the-box thinking gets them through life.
When people want to know what our life is like, I tell them to watch this show. The show touches on sensitive topics in a funny way. I’m hopeful that this sitcom is teaching people that there is nothing wrong with having a disability.
My family has bonded over this show. We have watched each episode many times. Our nighttime routine involves snuggling on the couch and watching an episode of "Speechless." It’s the first show that has a character Wade can truly relate to. It makes my heart happy to hear him laugh at the show. I’m glad he can see himself in the character. I think "Speechless" is doing a great job of normalizing disability.
Having a child who has a disability can be very hard. "Speechless" gives our family an outlet. We can sit together and laugh over a family on TV that is just like ours. And our youngest son can see that other families have a child like his brother. If JJ on TV can do something using a wheelchair, his brother can too!
I’m hopeful that "Speechless" will encourage other shows like it. It’s so nice to see disability in mainstream TV. I hope there is more to come.
Family Support offers information, help and ideas for you and your family.
Living with a child who has mental health issues can come with a lot of unknowns just like having a child with physical health issues. But society can treat both children very differently.
I have two boys. One is 10 and the other is 8. Both of my kids have disability labels. One has a physical disability and the other has emotional and behavioral issues. One disability you can see, the other you don’t – but it is there.