My 7 year old daughter is in a Special Education Special Day Class (a class solely for special education students). Her class plays on the same playground at the same time as the general education students everyday.
She asked me recently, “Why are the other kids on the playground afraid of me?”
I was lost for a moment and I asked her why she thought that.
“The other kids don’t play with me or talk to me.”
My heart ached.
My mind race with questions.
After a moment I asked her what she would tell the other kids to make them not be afraid and she said,
“I am not afraid of you. I like to play just like you. I want to play with you. I would like to play with you. I am always here for you. I am fun and happy. I like you.”
Yes, my daughter has special needs.
She has trouble comprehending math facts and decoding words and processing information.
But she understands how to be compassionate and giving.
She sees everyone as the same no matter what differences they have.
Above all she is resilient.
It has been a long road to get her to verbalize her questions and feelings. Her sharing this it has opened the door for more discussions and social interaction.
Imagine your child feeling that others are afraid of them and they don’t know why.
It’s a heartbreaking thought, isn’t it?
I hope all parents, no matter whether their children are in general education or have special needs, teach their kids how to reach out to others and to treat every child with acceptance and respect – to play with children and talk to them no matter what differences may exist.
Teaching children to play without discrimination is of paramount importance, especially with the current climate in our Nation.
Perhaps we can find a way to bring the concepts of social inclusion, embodied in the work of https://www.beyonddifferences.org, to kids of all ages and need?
Join us in encouraging all kids to be kind to one another and to engage with one another, no matter how unique each of them they may be. It is our differences that make us special and better able to co-exist in our communities throughout life.