Monday, December 10, 2007

To Include or Not to Include - our kids gift to society

Today I was talking to my son's school aid. She was telling me how mad she get's when one of the children, or even a teacher makes comments that shock her. Specifically "Can Nicky really read" or "Wow I had no idea he could read", or "Nicky likes roller coasters", "I didn't know he could do puzzles", "I can't believe how good he is at puzzles", "Nicky can work the computer?".

I understand her frustration. She is angry that people, children and adults assume that all children with a developmental disability are incapable of thinking on acting like a typical child on any level. I even understood that she wanted to quip "Yeah, better than you!"

I listened and then I said "there in lies the gift of Nicholas Jones". Our little man; who is amazing on a computer, reads and does puzzles beyond the ability of most of the children around him, did not fit their mold of a disabled person.

So, he is single handedly changing their paradigm's and opening their minds to ideas they never considered. Suddenly every child with a disability is not what they thought. Now they know that a disabled child might be able to do things you didn't think they coudl do and they might even do t hings better than you. So just because a kid can't talk to you, or play with you like the other children doesn't mean he can't do anything.

Wow, my kiddo is helping children become tolerant and understanding. When I was in elementary school children with disabilities were not able to attend school with the general population, so I grew up, ignorant about disabilities. I had no idea how many people were disabled in our community, what abilities they had, what contributions they could make or what it felt like to have a disabled friend. The only word I heard by my peers to describ the kids with developmental disabilities was "retard".

Bottom line, we were not exposed to this segment of our population, and we were certainly not taught tolerance. Much less that we could have a friend with a disability. Today Nicky has friends in his school. The kids look out for him, they are intrigued by his abilities and they help his every day. They think he is cute and very cool. They tell each other how to talk to him and what to be on the look out for. They get very excited by his accomplishments and sad when he has a bad day. So, not only is Nicky blessed to have this great collection of kids who look out for him, but they are blessed to have this great kid who is teaching them about the value and potential of children with disabilities.

I am sure he has changed many a life, but being not what people expected.

Notes to myself and others
When things get bad remember that Nicky's purpose here and all of our kids with autism may be to change how we view people in our society, not thought their limitations but through
their possibilities and abilities.

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