As was everyone, I was horrified and deeply saddened by the recent murder of a young boy who happened to have special needs. While I do not have any details about this family other than what has been reported in the news, my sense as a social worker and executive director of an agency that works with children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities for the past 30 years tells me that this senseless crime was not strictly about the fact that this child had a disability and was too difficult to care for. It seems that there were many red flags pointing to other psycho-social problems for some time.

It’s been my privilege to meet and get to know many families who have children with multiple handicaps, and most come to consider their child a unique gift who brings special love and joy to their lives. It’s not that it’s easy; it’s about having support, knowledge and healthy coping mechanisms. So I feel obligated to tell Advocate readers that if you have a child with special needs, there is help out there.

The McMains Children’s Developmental Center is a United Way agency and United Cerebral Palsy affiliate that provides physical, occupational, educational and speech therapy to children as well as counseling, behavior management and support to the families. There are many other resources available such as Families Helping Families, Prevent Child Abuse La, Battered Women’s Program, Catholic Charities. For more information, please contact us at 225-923-3420.

Janet Ketcham, executive director

McMains Children’s Developmental Center

Baton Rouge