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When You #ChooseKind, Don't Forget Invisible Disabilities

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My son’s fifth grade class read R.J. Palacio’s book “Wonder” together and took a field trip to see the movie.  First, how cool is it that Sam and his peers explored, discussed and experienced both the book and movie as a class? They will be entering middle school next year and will face many of the challenges of the characters in the movie. I am confident studying this book and film together will help them see things in a different way and encourage them to make the choice to treat people with kindness and compassion.

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Second, if you are going to go, bring an entire box of tissues. I literally started to ugly cry about five minutes into the movie and didn’t stop until the end. It is an emotional journey into the life of Auggie, a boy with a facial difference, as he enters middle school after being home-schooled by his mother his entire life. Through Auggie we meet his sister, who feels like an only child. We meet his mother, who has put her entire life on hold to care for and educate her son, and his father, who works hard and does his best to just laugh through life, and all of Auggie’s classmates who struggle to understand and relate to a peer who is different.

The movie explores why kids bully, how kids react to bullies and how parents and teachers can help and/or hinder the situation. While Auggie’s disability was clearly visible, mental illness can’t always be seen. It is often not visible, and when it is, it often gets called a “behavior problem” instead of a disability. Here is my challenge for the day: #ChooseKind to all. Get to know people before you pass judgment. Because just maybe the child you see throwing a tantrum in a store really can’t help it. Take a short moment to think of Auggie and “Wonder” and then #ChooseKind.

Originally published: December 12, 2017
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