When you are out and about and you see a child misbehaving, maybe he is throwing a fit, yelling at the top of his lungs, or running up and down the aisles.

Before remarking that the child needs a spanking or suggest that I need to polish my parenting skills, I ask you to think twice, look twice.

Not everything what it seems; looks can be deceiving. What you see as a misbehaving child may in fact be a special needs child who is having a sensory meltdown or one who is a runner.

Remember not all disabilities have discernible characteristics. Autism or Asperger syndrome and even ones such as Down syndrome may not be easily recognized by a layperson.

Should you realize it is a special needs child, don’t look upon us with pity, or tell us how sorry you are. Don’t stare.

If you have questions, ask. We relish the opportunity to raise awareness of these disabilities. But more so, we love to talk about our children, the same as any parent.

Although our boast may not be the normal Johnny hit a home-run, or Susie got all A’s. It may be something like Johnny ate a new food, Susie said a complete sentence.

You see, what most would take for granted as an everyday occurrence just might be a milestone to us.

Don’t feel sorry for us or our children for what they may never be or accomplish. Nothing is impossible.

Besides, many famous people suffer from a disability. Some with autism or Asperger’s include Daryl Hannah, Bill Gates, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.

And with Down syndrome Chris Burke, an actor; Johnny Stallings, an author; Judith Scott, an artist; and Miguel Tomasin, a singer in a rock band, just to name a few.

See past the disability and see the abilities and never say never.

So don’t pity us or feel sorry for us. If you must pity someone, feel sorry for yourself. For not knowing the joys of raising a special child, because my son has taught me so much, like not taking even the smallest thing for granted; to see the beauty in all things; to stop and smell the roses; to slow down and enjoy all that life offers; and to never quit, no matter what the obstacle may be.

And most important, he has taught me to love unconditionally, regardless of religion, color or sexual preference.

Remember, every child is like a butterfly, beautiful and unique; just some may fly higher and faster then others.

So the next time before you judge or speak, think twice, look twice.

Paddy Hyatt lives in Summerville, and work for U.S. Security Associates. She spends much of her spare time at the Summerville Miracle League and Summerville Challenger League (ball teams for Special Needs). Her son was recently featured in the National Down Syndrome Association’s video in New York City to kick off Down Syndrome Awareness Month.