Our kids, are kids
I’m back on the books today engaging in consultations with my incredible clients and these two cheeky monkeys are off to school holiday program
They’ve both been so excited!
The program was developed by a fellow Mama from our local specialist school that my Miss eight attends and is run for children with significant support needs and disabilities, but is open to everyone.
Miss five cannot wait, she’s been asking me day in and day out how many sleeps until school holiday program.
It’s her first time.
And she’s so pumped to be with her sister, yet keeps reassuring her “It’s okay Sis, I promise to give you space!”
My two littlest babies are like chalk and cheese, one is reserved and quiet, patient and affectionate, non speaking and requires a lot of downtime (much like one of her older sisters),
And the other is highly social, loud and proud, unreserved, uninhibited, loves people and being social and lets everybody know exactly what she’s thinking (much like one of her older sisters).
Although there are significant differences between them, they’re both autistic.
I’ve been asked how I feel about Miss five joining a program built for kids with disabilities and whether or not she’ll be adequately stimulated and socialised.
Questions like these, (although from an uninformed perspective I understand them) are part of the problem and reflective of current attitudes and understandings of disability.
Our kids, are kids.
Whilst it’s important to acknowledge and be aware of a person’s disability, it’s just as important to remember the importance of inclusion.
Inclusion isn’t just about accommodations
It’s about coming together as equals
Teaching our children the value of diversity
Plunging our children into social circles with children with diagnoses; who deviate from what is considered ‘typical’, giving our children opportunities to learn and see WHO those with diverse needs ARE.
When I said to Miss Five last night “I’m so glad you’re so beautiful, considerate and kind, because many of your new friends tomorrow have..” and she cut me off “Ohh I knooooow Muuuuuum, disabilitiiiiiiiies...booooooring”
Because this is life for us. It’s our everyday reality.
And joining her diverse peers isn’t really a ‘thing’, because even though it may not be as obvious, she too has a disability.
She is autistic.
She feels safer, more at home, more accepted and understood with these peers than she does with her typical peers
She has no idea that society even has an opinion, an attitude, any ideas outside of ‘normal’ when it comes to disability
And honestly, to assume or judge that a child would not be adequately nourished surrounded by their peers because they are disabled in any way is an ableist point of view
It’s a common practice for us to engage our disabled children in mainstream schools, mainstream social skills programs and hold them to neuronormative, able bodied standards
So why not engage our children amongst their disabled peers?
This is life. This is our family. This is inclusion. This is human.