Our 12 year old son Tyler is developmentally disabled. Tyler's learning center has a Special Olympics program and we (along with his teachers) have been encouraging him to participate. Every time we bring it up to him, however, Tyler pushes back and becomes very withdrawn. We love Tyler very much and don't want to force him into it, but we think the Special Olympics would be a terrific experience and help him conquer his shyness and introversion. Do you have any suggestions for helping him get past this fear?
Jean and Ted in Westmont
Dear Jean and Ted:
As you know I am a big fan of the Special Olympics program, and all the good things it does for young Mongoloid-Americans like your son. Nothing inspires more than the sight of these heroic young tards hilariously giving it their all in the arena of friendly athletic competition. Extra-chromosome? More like extra-awesome! That's why I recently volunteered, on the advice of my damage control team, as an equipment manager for the U.S. Special Olympics bowling squad. At first I wasn't sure how I would feel about polishing other people's balls for a change, but I think those tards really appreciate what I've done for them. Lately they started calling me "Special O."
But for all I've given to the program, I've gotten much more in return; the beaming smiles of appreciation for a well-folded towel, the many times the team worked together to tug me out after I got my head stuck in the ball return. I've learned much from the experience, including the fact that these bowling tards really have some great policy ideas, like Jimmy's brilliant "free Skittles for everybody." That's why I invited the team to join my Council of Economic Advisers, where they are hard at work on my next stimulus plan. I've also learned that tards are people too, and they don't like to be condescended to or patronized. When Jimmy suggested spending cuts, for example, I sent him to the corner without a juice box -- just as I would for any non-tard member of my cabinet.
As far as Tyler's fears go, the most important thing is to build his confidence. Reassure him you will be there cheering him on. Let him know that no matter how much he stumbles and trips, or runs around in circles randomly flailing his arms like a moron, or winds up falling flat on his face, you will be there to pick him up, kiss the boo-boos, drape a medal on his neck, and keep telling him he's the greatest athlete in the world. For some great examples, just watch MSNBC.