When Robert was selected to be on the Mom & Caregiver magazine cover, I didn’t know what to expect. Kids can be so unpredictable, and we were coming out of Covid restrictions. How would he react? Would he participate willingly? What were they expecting of him?
The magazine called me and gave us some ideas of what they would be doing that day and what we could expect. I was asked accommodation questions, such as “does Robert have any sound or light aversions?”. Clearly, we were going to a location staffed by empathetic and accepting people. They suggested we dress Robert in a blazer, graphic tee and cool shoes. I looked in his closet for the perfect outfit and even did a Pinterest tutorial on cool ways to tie laces for his shoes. I was going to make sure he looked the part of the model they wanted.
When the day arrived, Robert was very nervous. He had started to believe in these Covid-times he was only going to get needles when we brought him to unknown places. While I did my best to reassure him, he didn’t believe me. Eventually, he trusted me enough to walk to the studio, where he was greeted like a celebrity.
The staff all made him feel comfortable and confident. They laughed at his antics, and he proudly showed off his baby sister. He posed and loved every minute of the experience. In fact, it took nearly as much work to encourage him to leave the studio as it did to take him into the studio!
When the magazine was released, I was blown away. Robert’s personality shines, and it’s clear he is made to be a cover model. I don’t know if this is just my bias showing…
While the world is becoming more diverse, there is still a long way to go. Magazines that feature kids who look like Robert are essential to help remove the stigma of disabilities. When people with disabilities are featured, not as tokens but as humans, it makes it easier for people to feel comfortable around disabilities. Disability is not a bad word, and there is no shame in being disabled. If it makes you uncomfortable, ask yourself ‘why?’ and sit with that answer and reflect on it.
So thank you to the Mom & Caregiver magazine and all those who voted to feature Robert on the cover. It was an excellent experience, and it brings me joy to know that my son can bring a smile to others. After all, representation matters, wouldn’t you agree?