Everyday, as you send your special needs child off into the big wide world, consider this:
“Contrary to popular opinion, and contrary to the thesis of some anti-bullying programs, bullying is not about anger or conflict. It’s about contempt – a powerful feeling of dislike towards someone considered to be worthless, inferior or undeserving of respect. Bullying is arrogance in action. Once kids believe that someone is “less than them” they can harm that child without feeling any empathy, compassion, or shame” – Barbara Coloroso, from Bully, Bullied, Bystander and Beyond, Teaching Tolerance Magazine, Spring 2011
And this is why, my friends, we must never EVER rest, never EVER assume, never EVER believe that we have done enough as parents, educators and citizens to eradicate the ignorant and dangerous beliefs held by a staggering number of children – that special needs kids are somehow “less than.” To do so is to put our own children in grave emotional and physical danger.
It’s not enough to parade about town with our awareness t-shirts on. We must dig until we get to the very roots of this arrogance, this contempt, this powerful dislike and we must roll up our sleeves and replace these poisonous roots with seeds of truth, compassion, empathy, tolerance, acceptance, and love.
I never thought of myself as the gardening type; never liked the feeling of soil underneath my nails, never yearned to spend hours hunched over the ground with the hot sun beating down on me as I labored to bring life to an otherwise barren space.
But I’m beginning to understand now, the allure.
Out of the painfully slow and often uncomfortable process of trying to replace something ugly with something beautiful and vibrant comes the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve somehow changed the world for the better, if only one bloom at a time.
So despite my usual aversion to take on nature and her finicky and unpredictable ways, in this case, I’ll make an exception.
Because I know the harder I work and the more willing I am to be uncomfortable as I struggle to remove the suffocating weeds that stand in the way of the world I want my children to inherit, the more likely it is that something beautiful and better and fertile will grow.
More from Jo on creating a safe, accepting and loving world for our special needs community:
5 Reasons your child should be friends with someone with special needs
Special needs: It’s OK to ask questions