Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Special Needs Kids and Superpowers: Would You Change Them If You Could?

“I have a question,” he said at lunch. I was on a cultural interview with several people that I’d hoped to be working with soon. “Ok,” I replied, thinking “Crap, what else can I tell these people already?” It was my fifth meeting and I was annoyed at having to wear a suit on five different occasions for them. Couldn’t they have merged some of these interviews together?

“If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be?” he asked. I laughed, and spurted “I’d want magical healing powers.”

I did want magical healing powers. Back then, my son was three years old and navigating preschool autism classroom, speech therapy, and the new world where my doubts about his unmet milestones had only recently been confirmed as Officially Delayed. I wanted to “fix” my baby.  I thought a lot about whether to fix the child or whether to fix the world

I wanted to possess the magic key –  the superpowers that would help him to speak.


Tonight, wondering about superpowers, invisibility, teleportation, and having the ability to make time stop, I planned to talk about how I’d want my son to stay exactly as he is but to have the superpower himself to speak more clearly.

That when he says “girl,” it sounds like “girl” rather than “go-whoa.” That never again would my little boy be bullied by a kid on the bus for “sounding like a baby.” That I’d never again be driving home from playing and hear him say “I need a doctor. My mouth is broken and nobody understands me.”

Being able to fix his words was my wished-upon superpower.


I’m thinking about words and accents and the way that each of us speaks and pronounces. Boston’s “cah” is “car” and Chicago’s “mam” is “mom” and “you guys” from Colorado is “y’all” in the south.  

Would having the superpower of helping my son’s speech also mean that I’d be taking away culture, religion, accents, and the power that comes from using words given to us from family for generations? Does wanting to fix my son’s speech patterns also mean that I’d be taking away somebody’s accent?

It seems as if part of the reason that we love accents is because they’re gifted to us, scented with promise of other lands and other cultures. Accents are a reminder that this world is so much bigger than we know while driving to the local grocery for watermelon.

Brit and non-brit say faht rather than fart -

Turns out, Rooster Lady Lizzi from England pronounces “fart” the same way that Tucker does


What though, if rather than looking at language and accents, we were to revert back to a place where the only thing that matters is a tiny baby saying his first words, intelligible to only his mother.

That is the power of language.


Me, thinking that I want to possess a superpower that would make my son not feel as if his mouth is broken. What if it weren’t he who should be the one to change?

What if my superpower was to magic-wand the entire planet to grow up with empathy and wonder and appreciation? What if my son not being able to say “r” or “l” and adding syllables to words and not ever saying some of them “correctly” at all were just his unique foreign accent? What if the way that we speak, or don’t speak, is looked at as more of a glimpse into our culture and into our minds?

When I think about it like that, I don’t want to “fix” my son’s language. I want to fix the rest of the world who, when they can’t understand him, dismiss him. 

I want the world to know that my little boy’s unique way of speaking is intriguing and amazing and that he finds a way to get his point across no matter what.

My superpower is BOPPING THE WORLD ONTHE HEAD WITH EMPATHY - findingninee.comI want my superpower to be that I bop the world on the head to remind them that language is here to communicate. That if a little boy on the bus says “go-woah” rather than “girl,” that it’s okay to ask what he means. That judging him takes away his words completely.

I have a friend who hesitates to volunteer in our children’s shared classroom, because of her language barrier. She grew up elsewhere, and often decides to not speak rather than taking a position volunteering when she wants to. I want her to know that it’s not her job to be silent. I want her to know that it’s our job to have the empathy and patience to understand her words. I know that they are important. 

I have a six-year-old who hesitates to participate when he wants to because of his language barrier. He grew up here with me, and is delayed. He often decides to not speak rather than taking a position on the playground when he wants to. I want him to know that it’s not his job to be silent. I want him to know that it’s our job to have the empathy and patience to understand his words. I know that they are important. 

I want my superpower to be bopping all of us on the head with the reminder that we’re all human. That we’re more alike than different. That communication matters more than pronunciation, accent, or extra syllables given from a little kid with special needs.

Also? Teleportation would be amazing.


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. Today’s sentence was “If I could have any superpower, I would want to be able to…”

Hosted by moi, as always, (FindingNinee), and by Amy of A Goode One (and this week’s thinker upper) and Michelle of Crumpets and Bollocks,a regular and an awesome mama who knows all about autism from all the ways. They are both amazing. Give them some love.

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  • Pat B - You have written a beautiful post. He is so fortunate to have such an awesome and loving and understanding mother. I think teachers often do a great job of teaching others in the classroom when bullying situations arise, but not all remarks are heard on a school bus by the driver who is trying to get all the kids to their destinations safely. Your wished for superpowers would be such a comfort for you and for your son, and for the rest of humanity to be reminded that we are all more the same than different, now that would be a huge happening.September 25, 2015 – 12:50 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Pat,
      I so agree that if humanity were reminded that we’re all so much more alike than different the world would be so much better and more loving. And thank you so very much for your kind words and for linking up again this week!September 25, 2015 – 5:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - I think your super power sounds amzing a perfect. Seriously, I wish you could bop others on the head and remind them that we are all human and we more alike than we could ever imagine. Seriously, what I wouldn’t give for you to indeed have this super power, because the world, itself, would be a better place entirely.September 25, 2015 – 2:12 amReplyCancel

  • JT Walters - I’d want my superpower to be to give my son acceptance and love in a world which he is not long for and gas not received. I want him to know he is love able by more than me and if people do not love him…it is their problem and not his. I’ll wave teleportation so you can head bop sense into the rest of the world as my second choice!September 25, 2015 – 2:23 amReplyCancel

  • Kerri - Bop the world on the head! I’m with you, teleporting would be so freaking cool. But if we could give the world more empathy? That would be a power worth having. Plus you wouldn’t inadvertently teleport onto someone’s lapSeptember 25, 2015 – 9:20 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - LOL Kerri! Yeah maybe teleporting onto somebody’s lap wouldn’t be very well received. 🙂September 25, 2015 – 5:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - I love that your superpower is a head-bopping for the rest of the world – it makes so much sense and truly would make our world a better place. I stopped looking at my kid as “different” a long time ago and yet it is so frustrating because I don’t understand why he is sometimes not accepted by peers…and yeah teleporting would be awesome too. 🙂September 25, 2015 – 9:43 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - It so would, right, Emily!?!? It makes me sad that our kids are sometimes not accepted by peers. So sad. All kids should be accepted as they are. xoSeptember 25, 2015 – 5:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Rabia @TheLiebers - That is an amazing super power! I wish the world was more empathetic and forgiving as well. We’re all different, why can’t we just accept the differences and go on about our days!?!September 25, 2015 – 10:08 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Rabia! And yeah, I wish the world was more forgiving too. Sigh.September 25, 2015 – 5:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Heart warming Kristi. I hope Tucker reads these in the future to know and learn on a deeper level just how big your heart is for him and everyone. What a gift a super power that would be to just bop everyone with empathy.

    And yes, teleportation would be lovely! We could bop some jerks instantly (those ones who comment to internet news with no empathy whatsoever.) Would the bopper hurt in these instances?

    Seriously though, beautiful post.September 25, 2015 – 2:59 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you Kenya! I hope he reads them too… and doesn’t hate me for writing about him! Gulp.
      Hm… I think the bopping would have to not hurt in this case right? The Empathy Fairy probably would get a bad rap if she went around hurting people. Although there are some… 😉September 28, 2015 – 4:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - Love that superpower! And teleportation, too! 🙂September 25, 2015 – 4:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Marcia @ Menopausal Mother - Another great post! And I’m SO JEALOUS that you got to meet Lizzi!!!September 26, 2015 – 12:08 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Meeting Lizzi was truly wonderful. I hope you’ll get to meet her one day and I also hope that I get to meet you in person one day!September 26, 2015 – 3:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Sandra - I see you got a special visitor from England, and she says faht like you’re son, so already we love her.
    I work on a hospital unit in Canada where language barriers are daily occurrences. On some days, I can have 8 patients who barely understand me. It’s difficult to communicate, but you’re right, compassion does go a long way. It would be fun though if I could skip some of my teaching about how to bathe a new baby or how to prevent your newborn from choking, and instead spend some time with them teaching them the really important words like “shit,” “crapping your pants,” “fucking asshole.” Those words are going to be far more useful than, “Where do you keep the breast pads”?September 26, 2015 – 2:15 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Sandra, you lovely woman you. LOL to you wishing you could teach your patients words like “shit” and “crapping your pants” and “fucking asshole” rather than where the breast pads are located.September 27, 2015 – 8:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Clark Scottroger - “What if the way that we speak, or don’t speak, is looked at as more of a glimpse into our culture and into our minds?”
    it surely is… (for me) more of the ‘into our minds’ it (how we communicate) has everything we need to see the world as the other person is experiencing it, at least to a certain extent. And the really cool thing is that, the very effort to attempt to do this, always causes us to see ourselves from a certain perspective that can only make us better lifeforms… the effort
    hey, glad the FTSF is still goin strongSeptember 26, 2015 – 5:25 amReplyCancel

  • Corinne Rodrigues - Your post brought me to tears, Kristi. I wish you had those superpowers too. What a different world it would be if we all learned to be empathetic! Love that picture of Lizzi and Tucker! ♥September 26, 2015 – 7:59 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you so so much, Corinne. It brought me to tears, too. And yeah, Tucker LOVES Lizzi so much. He introduced her at the bus stop as His Rooster Lady. Love!September 27, 2015 – 8:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - So glad you had fun with Lizzi! I hope her stay with you was amazing!September 26, 2015 – 10:22 amReplyCancel

  • Michelle Grewe - I love the cartoon image. Bop people on the head with empathy. It’s funny I’ve always been told that autism lacks empathy, but I think it’s more lacking in the neurotypical sense. But if your kid has anything like autism, I’m sure there are some superpowers he has that you guys just haven’t noticed yet. For instance, cat woman is more super because she has heightened senses.September 26, 2015 – 12:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa L Nolan - Such a lovely, powerful piece! My superpower would be, “Put you shoes and socks away, for goodness sakes, how many times…” (Perhaps a magic wand could make them disappear, LOL.) Shared, tweeted, pinned, and G+!September 26, 2015 – 2:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Anna Fitfunner - Your wished-for superpower is a great idea. Empathy is truly important, and not just in a special-needs context. Probably a good idea to mix empathy bopping and teleportation so that you could get around the world quickly and bop as many people as possible!September 26, 2015 – 2:08 pmReplyCancel

  • Allie - You always amaze me. How is it that I’ve never even thought of healing powers as my super power? Sad, really. But yes, I wish I did. Truth is, we do have healing powers. Seriously – look at the smiling, happy boy in the picture – that mainstream, kick-ass first grader. He is who he is, because of his super hero mommy. #truthSeptember 26, 2015 – 9:15 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Allie, you’re so awesome. Your comment actually made me cry a little bit. Our boys! Aren’t they doing so amazingly well in spite of early fears? xoxo friend.September 27, 2015 – 8:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa Moskowitz Sadikman - That lesson of knowing it’s not our job to be silent or to judge, but to speak and communicate and bring empathy and kindness to others is so important Kristi. You have a very special way of making the personal universal. Don’t ever stop bopping. xoSeptember 26, 2015 – 11:44 pmReplyCancel

  • .K - I love everything about this, Kristi. And that picture of Lizzi and Tucker is priceless!!

    When I was little and there was talk of stem cell treatments on the news (a distant hope of a “cure” for CP), my mom asked me if I would cure my CP if I could, and I told her that no, I wouldn’t.

    “Would you?” I asked. “Would you cure it if you could?”

    “Yes,” she said. “I would. Because your life would be so much easier.”

    Her answer has haunted me all these years, and I don’t mean that in a critical way, because I know that she loves me just the way I am and I know that her answer came from a place of kindness. But it caught me off guard and I think that’s why I remember it to this day.

    But maybe she meant it just the way that you do in this post…that, in a way, taking away my CP wouldn’t be to fix “me,” but to spare me from the way the rest of the world reacts to it.

    Because like you said, that’s one of hardest parts. Sometimes it’s hard for me to get up and walk in front of other people because they gape at my legs and whisper or assume I’m drunk or something like that…and it’s times like those that I wish you were there to bop them over the head with empathy, haha!

    But I think we both know that you already have that superpower, Kristi. You have been bopping people over the head with empathy for as long as I have known you. Tucker, too. You both need to break out your superhero capes again! Thank you for making the world a more beautiful, empathetic place.September 27, 2015 – 3:20 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw K!! I so adore you. And if we’re ever in the same room (which I so hope we are), and anybody whispers or gapes, I’ll most definitely bop them over the head with empathy with a big ol’ speech — or, maybe for real because WHY can we not just realize that we’re all so different and that some of our differences are more “seen” than others and that also we’re so so much more alike than we are different ya know? And thank you for your amazing kind words.
      Thank YOU for sharing our world. For making it better. xxooSeptember 27, 2015 – 8:21 pmReplyCancel

  • Kelly L McKenzie - I, too, have a friend who is sometimes reluctant to speak as English is not her first language. She is one of the wisest women I know and we need to hear her words. I also find it very annoying when they plop in subtitles ALL the time on news reports for folks for whom English isn’t their first language. I understand that it’s perhaps necessary every now and then but ALL the time? Can’t we just make an effort to understand them? It’s not difficult. Just put in the time, people.September 27, 2015 – 7:07 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - RIGHT? Thanks huge, Kelly! If we take the time, we can understand. And understanding other people’s perspectives makes the whole world bigger and greater.September 27, 2015 – 8:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - Teleportation for SURE. Also, I want to fly. Even though it’s not as healing as other things. I just want to fly already, darnit!
    I love “faht.” I love how much thought you put into this, and how accents can impact us.September 27, 2015 – 8:24 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I want to fly. I do too in my dreams. One of mine is amazing. After I visited a psychic. Go figure!September 27, 2015 – 10:17 pmReplyCancel

  • Christine Carter - Aw… this is beautiful, Kristi!! You so perfectly described what I think would be the very BEST super power for our world. For Tucker, and for everyone really. What a gorgeous mission, and yeah- teleporting? That would be sweet. 🙂

    Your image cracked me UP. Why? Because I loved how your boob was drawn. LOL It’s so perky!!September 29, 2015 – 4:15 amReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - As always, beautiful, thought provoking, and inspiring.
    Love the photo of LIZZY & Tucker! SO COOL))))
    She must have traveled every where except MN!! xxxOctober 6, 2015 – 11:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Vidya Sury - You have a heart of gold, Kristi! I wish I had the SuperPower to wave my wand and grant wishes. Tucker is growing up so fast – love that photo! I’d vote for teleportation too! Hugs! Love your post.October 8, 2015 – 3:14 pmReplyCancel

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