President’s February Message

Acceptance of Children with Special Needs

Chances are, at some point during your child’s time in school, they will have a classmate with a disability. California State PTA shares these tips for teaching children about peers with special needs and how to make the family part of the school community from Care.com:

  • Even if a child doesn’t talk, there are still activities the children can do together, such as play board games or arts and crafts.
  • Most parents of children with disabilities would prefer that other adults ask them about their child directly, rather than avoiding them. A smile or friendly “Hello!” is an easy icebreaker.
  • If your child wants to have a play date with a child with a disability or invite him or her to a birthday party, encourage it. Call the other parent and say simply, “How can we make this work?”
  • Share any concerns with the other parent. Parents of children with disabilities will often be happy to facilitate a successful play date or outing.
  • Extra effort goes a long way. For instance, learning simple signs so that you can better communicate with a child who is deaf (and uses sign language) will be much appreciated.

Disabilities can cover a wide range. Some are obvious — such as a child with a physical disability who uses a wheelchair or a child with a visual impairment who uses a cane to navigate when walking. Other disabilities may be more “hidden” — for example, children who have learning disabilities or autism spectrum disorder.  Just as you guided your very young child when he or she began to befriend others, you can encourage your child to learn about and be a friend to children who have disabilities.

Basic ideas to share with your child

  • No two people are the same — some differences are just more noticeable.
  • A disability is only one characteristic of a person. People have many facets: likes and dislikes, strengths and challenges.
  • Children with disabilities are like all children in that they want friends, respect and to be included.
  • Children can be born disabled or become disabled from an accident or illness.
  • Just because someone has a physical disability (when a part or parts of the body do not work well) does not mean they necessarily have a cognitive (or thinking) disability.
  • Children with disabilities can do many of the things your child does, but it might take them longer. They may need assistance or adaptive equipment to help them.

We hope that you will take time this month to talk to your children about children with special needs and how you and your family can reach out to make them feel included and accepted here at Lowell.

Melissa Brower

President, Lowell PTA