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I’m calling you to action today.
“He came up to me and said, I know all about your son’s sickness,” said my friend whose son does not have a sickness. He has Asperger Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. It is part of who he is. He is not sick.
She said, “What if he learns he’s autistic from a kid at school and not from me?”
Stunned, I paused, I’d never considered the difficulty of
1) when to tell your child his “label” (which should be her decision)
2) helping other families and children understand your child’s & his or her differences
SO . . . how do we answer questions about differences? How do we talk to children about others who have special needs?
Will you do me a favor? Will you start talking about how everyone is different — with obvious things? My wonderful blogging friend and mom to a child with special needs, Barb, suggests you say things like:
“Look at them they’re different, they wear glasses.”
Look at me, I’m different, I have a mole on my face.”
Barb’s son is in a wheelchair. She could then say to him, “Look at you, you’re different, you’re in a wheelchair”. Won’t it be easier for him now that she’s pointed out how everyone is different, not just him?
Will you take a moment and talk with your child about what makes him or her different? (Feel free to substitute special for different if you prefer.)
Barb says, “It’s just a way of thinking differently – some of us are good are math, some would rather play sports, some want to draw.“
My kids grew up with a friend in a wheelchair. Chloe couldn’t talk or move her body but she could smile. We were lucky to know her and my kids learned from an early age how everyone is different. Did it matter that Chloe was physically so different? No. She was their friend. She died a few years ago but my kids still talk about her and things we did together.
Here are some special needs book suggestions from Disaboom. Will you read one with your family this week?
You might want to read this Children’s Hospital article talking about kids who might need extra help.
Let’s start the conversation.