Handles, Wings, and the Special Needs Child.

4:40a.m. I heard “handles or wings.” Not audibly, but thoughts rattled and I carried my journal to the bathroom and wrote it down. My friend Peter Dehaan commented about my blog post on writing, the one about keeping paper and pen available while sleeping. He mentioned that sometimes a thought would arrive in the middle of the night and when he revisited it the next morning he was clueless as to why he wrote it down.

I imagined an angel with handles where wings would usually be found. Maybe my guardian angel could be easily moved. Just grab ahold matie, and take control.

Or maybe the angel is like a G.I. Joe I had when I was a child, the handles were where I would attach a parachute and throw him off the garage roof.

Maybe when God created angels he gave them a choice at the end of the assembly line. “Handles or wings?” the Creator asked. No brainer…wings! Much easier to do the Lord’s bidding and keep up with the silly things humans do.

Then I thought of our special needs children. You know how parents are to give their children wings. Well, not so fast. Handles might work better in some cases. They can be flighty but not too good at flying. In fact, given some of their disabilities and history we have tried to get a handle on them.

Take their moral conscience for instance. I have heard Barbara say more than once that we are their moral conscience. Some of them anyway. We really don’t want them flying around without an air-traffic controller in their minds. You know what I mean?

It can be pretty exhausting. Often I come home to find my dear Barbara with a deer-in-the-headlights glare.

So, I ask you, handles or wings? Any thoughts?


  1. Definitely wings! To me wings mean freedom and handles mean holding on!

  2. For our special needs children, I’ve thought for a long time that handles are needed longer…not forever, just longer. I don’t want them to crash and burn. So I’ve thought, college gives them a little longer to grow up, at least in our case. They didn’t go away to college. They stayed home and went to college. They don’t have to be competing quite so soon.

  3. Both. First handles, then wings. Both at the same time in the midst of transition, which can take a long time. Tweeted this out.

  4. Reblogged this on annkilter and commented:
    Transition is the long term process of changing handles to wings for our children. Set this expectation in your mind: it will take longer, with many fits and starts.

  5. And Reblogged.

  6. i would say both as well… there’s def. a time for both…

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