Include Classmates Who Have Special Needs

My child is different. Her genetics make it so. Due to a random stroke of fate, a chunk of her DNA is missing. Nobody knows why.
 
But old friends don’t search for what is missing. They just see what’s right there in front of them—the joyful light surrounding this happy girl. They love her big laugh and even bigger hugs. They embrace her mischievous streak of curiosity. They accept her just as she is.
 
But new friends, some adults and children, hesitate. “What’s wrong with her?” they ask in hushed voices…which we can totally hear by the way. 
 
There is nothing wrong with her. 

 

She may have trouble communicating succinctly. She might stumble over her words or repeat herself, but she has something to say. She wants to contribute to the conversation. 

She doesn’t always understand when you’re making fun of her or that you’re leaving her out, but as she gets older, she is more aware. 

When your child, with a disability or not, comes home from school in tears because they had nobody to play with at recess, it stings. 

She doesn’t need to be invited to everything. (Side Note: Number of parties she was invited to last school year? ZERO.) We’re trying to teach Avery that she won’t be involved in EVERY group and club and activity. And she needs to learn to read social cues. Sometimes people just need their space. Totally understandable and okay.

But please include her when you can. It may seem like nothing to you to ask her to sit beside you at assembly or to throw a ball with her at recess or to ask her to play on the swings after school, even for ten minutes. But to her, it’s everything. 

This is my child. Her dad and brother and I love her and it hurts us too when you ignore her or talk over her or whisper or stare.

Get to know her. You won’t be disappointed.

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  • I so wish we were neighbours, especially at times like this.

    She’s a little ray of sunshine. That’s what she is!

    You are so right, of course. It doesn’t have to be some grandiose gesture. A simple, “Hi!” or “Let’s play!” will do.

    No one expects every single person that crosses their path to be their BFF – forever is a long time – but how easy is it to brighten a moment in a person’s day simply by reaching out, making contact, and – let’s face it – being human*. Getting to know someone is great for all involved. There’s always a point where people’s lives cross or interconnect. Some simple thing in common is all it takes. “Oh, you have a big brother? Me too.” Bam! Instant connection.

    I hope her first day was a good one.

    *I swear one day I will write a book and it will be called “How to be Human”.

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