Wednesday, November 28, 2012
aware of different
I had a sweet and patient Mom write to me about an interaction her daughter had... I'm sharing the beginning of her letter with her permission.
While in the car earlier, Sally was telling me about this "mean" girl who ran past her in the library to get the book that Sally wanted. I asked her which girl in her class was "mean". She told me that is was a girl who only goes to "special area" with her class. Light bulb moment for me....I know from teaching that kids who only go to special area with a class are probably in a self contained room the rest of the day. So I told her that that little girl must have "superpowers". Well that was completely intriguing to her! Now, I have this incredible teaching moment for her and I got it mostly right but I need you to help me explain to her better about "superpowers' with out using that defining language that I want to avoid. I told her that girl is EXTRA special....she got that because we say "all kids are special" and they are. I explained to her that she could not help her behavior and she needs to be extra nice and understanding to her. I racked my brain, wishing I could go straight to your blog to help me explain this to her without making this girl seem different or scary. What is the best way to teach our kids about superpowers?
Man- reading that letter made my heart hurt with the love I felt pouring out from this Mom.. and the hope that these conversations are going on all over the World...and what a great question...It really got me thinking...
I am a big fan of shining a light on it. Whatever IT is in your life. When people know IT- IT ain't so scary.
I've had people say to me- Young kids don't even recognize when a child is different, but I don't agree. Even children as young as 2 and 3 notice that Greyson is different- and they ask me about it because they are observant and curious. Two beautiful traits...It's up to us to make sure that different isn't equated with bad...and we can do that by accepting different in ourselves first.
I've heard, Why doesn't Greyson listen to you? Why doesn't Greyson talk? Why is Greyson screaming? And when they ask I am never offended... Quite the opposite- I love 'em even more for it...
I certainly don't have all the answers or Life experiences...but I try to put it in age appropriate terms... Younger kids wouldn't understand terms like- Autism or Spectrum so I don't go there. (Ha! I don't understand Autism either!) But I try to say something like---
Every child is a gift from God- just like you are. Gifts are meant to be opened and celebrated. No two people are alike. Some kids look different on the outside- and some kids look different on the inside- like Greyson... Could you imagine if we all looked exactly the same?!!
We ALL have things that we are good at- and things we need extra help with...Is there something you need extra help with?
Greyson is a gift too. He loves to have fun and run. He's really good at jumping too!
Do you know how you are struggling with (riding a bike, catching a ball, multiplication)? Greyson is struggling with learning how to talk and how to share with others. He doesn't mean to hurt your feelings or not share toys. He just needs extra help doing it as good as you do!
Can you help Greyson learn to share? And even though he doesn't answer back- still talk to him. You may have to call his name a few times to get him to look at you. When you talk to him- it helps him learn how to talk. I know you are a good helper!
When Greyson is older if he has the capability to be involved with what we share it will be a team effort.
I don't keep Grey's autism in the corner. If he is going to learn from others- I want them to know what's going on- otherwise in time he WILL be labeled as mean, stupid or bad or slow...and he is much more than that...
You can ask your kid's Teacher if there are any special needs children in their class. It's not the kind of thing that is advertised...if there is- ask if there are any learning/helping opportunities that your child can be included in. I am so grateful to you for your help.
Thank you to the special Momma who wrote to me- and all of you other Parent's helping to share Awareness for Different all over the World.
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I always enjoy your words. You reminded me of a great quote from my boss, Maryln Appelbaum..."Calm trumps anger." So true.ReplyDelete
This meant so much to me.......we have a child who is different on the outside and that's hard too, but he's a great (man) boy and I just won't to shout it to the world sometimes!ReplyDelete
Such a great post, Chrissy. The little ones surely do know... and they are oh, so kind and caring with the extra special kids who need more help. I learn from them! Thanks so much for taking time to help us all understand. xoxoxoReplyDelete