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Why It's Important Kids Know About Differences and Disability

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There are some children who grow up around people with disabilities and know from a young age that not everyone acts or communicates the same way they do. There are also some children who may never be around someone with disabilities until they go to school or meet someone out and about in public.

I recently heard one of my daughter’s friends say to her, “Don’t drink after your brother, his autism might rub off on you.” As much as this comment made me angry at the moment, it also made me sad. I explained to her that wasn’t possible, and she said she understood. I also explained that if it was meant to be a joke, it really isn’t funny. I will never really know if she meant it as a joke or if she was serious, but I can tell from day-to-day life, many kids could use some lessons in diversity.

As a parent, I feel teaching your children that not everyone acts or communicates in the same way they do, is just as important as anything else you can teach them. Please take the time to talk to your child and explain that not everyone they meet will be just like them. Let them know if they have questions about why someone does something, or why they don’t talk, it’s OK to ask about it. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I am more than happy to answer questions children ask me about why my son does something or why he doesn’t talk. I believe there are other moms of kids with disabilities who feel the same.

I see lots of little faces looking confused when they meet my son. I hope that later, if they ask their parents about it, their parents take the time to explain that not everyone is the same. I hope they take the time to teach their kids not to be confused, afraid or even worse, mock those with differences.

Let’s be a world that teaches our children about love and acceptance. I believe we can start by teaching kids about differences.

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Thinkstock photo by JBryson

Originally published: May 19, 2017
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