Last year about this time I posted a blog about inclusion. I feel everyone should be included to the best of their ability no matter what their extra needs or disabilities may be. Certainly, a child with disabilities should not bring trauma to your own typical child, but my own children have had more struggles with typical children than they ever have with a child with disabilities. In fact, they have learned more from them than their typical peers.
That being said, I know that when paperwork came out regarding your child’s teachers, some people received a notification that their typical kiddo was in an inclusion class. I also know it upset some parents. How do I know? Truth be told, some people don’t know who I am and share their feelings unaware that my child is the inclusion child in your child’s class. Yup. That is her.
First, let me tell you a little about her. She’s beautiful inside and out. She cares for babies and puppies. She has an innate desire to support those struggling or suffering and an empathetic heart. You’ve read that children with autism don’t have typical social emotional feelings? That’s a myth. She likes to eat pizza, but has to eat it gluten free and has a preferred pizza shop, just like your child. She enjoys being outside, riding her strider bike, blowing bubbles and coloring with chalk. She wants to play soccer but doesn’t understand you can’t pick up the ball.
My daughter is my everything. Yes, all my kids are my everything but she brought a new purpose to my life. I have learned to stand up for her and for others. I have learned to reach out to lawmakers and sit in a meeting where you hear the worst and work with a team to plan for her best. Just like you hope for your own child.
Like you, when she was born, I imagined dance recitals, tutus, field hockey sticks and lacrosse. I imagined like her siblings she’d be bright and she’d complete our family. She does. Just differently. She wears tutus and dances to “Sing” at home. She can light up the room with her smile and her ability to remember far surpasses that of any person I have ever met. She’s exactly as she was meant to be.
Let me tell you a little more about “that class” your child will be in this year. My other children are often in inclusion. I wouldn’t change it for the world. They learn to be more patient and compassionate, and you as a parent can learn too. Your child will come home and cheer for the child with disabilities who finally wrote their name, answered a question or was able to play with them.
In fact, your child was probably chosen to be part of an inclusion class because the teachers, administration and support staff saw something beautiful in them. Most likely they saw the capability to love — you taught them that. Perhaps they saw your child’s ability to go with the flow, to roll with the punches. You taught them that too and they probably saw something in you. Acceptance. Understanding. Compassion. What an honor to have that seen in who you are and the child you are raising.
I understand we often fear what we don’t know. We fear what we don’t understand, so I am coming to you with a plea. Please just ask. Take a moment to learn about the beauty of having children with disabilities in your class. As a parent, when we hear that word got around your child is placed in “that class” with our children and you’re not happy about it, it hurts. Let’s talk. Let me introduce you to my daughter and I promise, I won’t judge your child either.