What Parents of Children with Special needs can Learn from Reading the Story of Forrest Gump

Parents of children with special needs can benefit much from reading the story Forrest Gump, a 1986 novel by Winston Groom. Many more people may remember the 1994 movie of the same name that stars Tom Hanks as the adult Forrest Gump. A recently released sequel entitled Gump & Co. by the same author, may give more insight into what children with special needs may encounter in latter years.

The story Forrest Gump tells of a good natured,mentally challenged boy who though doctors claim never to get out of callipers finally does so because he has to run away from bullies in school. He goes through life with words of wisdom from his mother that ‘stupid is as stupid does’ and that ‘life is like a box of chocolate – you never know what you will get out of it’. From the story, parents will glean words of wisdom on raising children with special needs that stem from these two core beliefs.

Children with special needs can learn. They can only be as stupid as they or the people around them make them out to be. However, never give up on them. They may need to go over the same lesson many more times than other children will need to but one day they will get there.

Children with special needs are endowed with special gifts. Even if Forrest Gump has evolved out of the fertile imagination of a writer’s mind, he is representative of many children with special needs who have made it given the support from parents and friends. They include world famous artists, scientists and musicians, many of whom rose to fame only after their demise.

Children with special needs can have normal love relationships with others. In the story, Forrest Gump ends up having a relationship with a girl. The story does not have a ‘happily married forever’ ending when she dies from cancer. However, Forrest Gump never forgets the girl who taught him to survive when in physical danger by running.

Children with special needs can have descendants without the same disorder. Forrest Gump ends up with a son who is as street smart and intelligent as his paternal grandmother and his own mother. Children of adults with special needs who are born without the same needs as their parents might suffer the same fate of being unable to fit into the family if they happen to be the only one in the family without the need.

Parents should teach children with special needs in the same manner as their other children, and teach them to accept themselves as they are. They need not be given special treatment in all areas of their lives. They will therefore not take advantage of others and live off their sympathy.    

Forrest Gump may have special needs, but on the outside and inside, he is as like as anyone else who sat with him at the bus stop while waiting for the bus. Similarly any other child will have to be as independent as he can be, special needs or none. Parents should therefore spend their time teaching them the same core values as they would their other children, and never let pity rule their lives.