The average childcan go up and ask to be included in activities their peers do. But, for a child with special needs, it might be a bit harder. There are about 2.8 million kids in the U.S. that have disabilities or special needs, and most of them are not included in all the fun activities. Some may not be able to say what is on their minds and some of them, even if they try, they will be turned down.
The average 5 year old child might be a little alarmed when a child their age with special needs comes and asks to play with them, if they might look a certain way. But, studies show that if we get over the fear or discomfort of including children with special needs, you might get to see that they are actually the sweetest, most loving kids you will ever meet.
When I first started seeing kids that looked different than me, I would get a bit anxious and stay away. I did not know how to communicate with special needs kids, and I was honestly a bit freaked out. I learned that they should be treated like normal kids, but it was still very hard for me to see it that way…
When I was in 8th grade, I was in PE class and I saw a 7th grader in a wheelchair in the other class. My friend and I had free choice so we decided to go up to him and talk to him. Little did we know that we would end up playing with him for the rest of the year. Every day we had PE we would go and play ball with him or just talk, and we had so much fun, and I didn’t even realize that he was different. After playing with him for a while, I felt so good about myself, and I felt like I was doing something truly amazing.
As the years passed, I got less and less freaked out by the special kids and I learned to love them. I am now in an organization called the Friendship Circle, where teen volunteers hang out with their special needs buddy. The kids there are truly the sweetest kids, and they are so incredibly full of love. I learned how to read what they are trying to tell me and I learned how to communicate. That experience changed my life, and maybe if people start changing the way they look at those kids, it will change their perspective too.