If you haven’t seen the prime time television show Speechless (Fridays 8:30pm Eastern|7:30 Central), it is a wonderful show about a family of five where one of the children has cerebral palsy. He is JJ DiMeo, uses a wheelchair and doesn’t speak, but is not intellectually disabled. He is the oldest of three children and their parents are still married. JJ uses a board and a pointer to spell out everything he wants to communicate.
I find this show so much more accurate than most of the other shows I’ve seen with disabled characters. In the past, most of what I’d seen showed those characters as side notes, not main characters, and the plots that involved them were not very realistic. But this show really strikes a chord with me. It’s not just that I raised a child who was speechless and in a wheelchair, but it shows this family’s struggles realistically. But at the same time is it entertaining, and there’s a lot of fun and love throughout it all.
The production values are excellent, and in addition to up-and-comers like Micah Fowler (JJ DiMeo), the show has well-known stars like Cedric Yarbrough (Reno 911!), John Ross Bowie (Big Bang Theory), and the wonderful Minnie Driver.
This week the episode was particularly poignant. The father, Jimmy, realizes that he has missed a bunch of father-son moments while his typical middle son Ray was growing up, such as learning to change a tire and tie a tie. Ray learned all those things on the internet instead. And Jimmy wonders if he spent too much time focused on JJ.
Many parents like me have those same concerns. As my girls were growing up, I was constantly worried about whether I was appropriately balancing my time between them. Elizabeth was always so sick and required so much care, I had to work hard to share time and energy with Caroline. I drove her to dance and school, homeschooled her for nearly three years, and went on trips (just the two of us) to places like Rocking Horse Ranch, Waterparks, Cape Cod (the Princess Suite no less) and the theme parks of Orlando. I have no idea if I did enough. I may never know. I hope Caroline tells me someday, like Ray did in this episode, that I was there for her for all the big stuff and that I was the best Mom ever.
- Posted by Attorney Annette M. Hines
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