‘In ONE week, I’ve heard: ‘What’s wrong with her?’ ‘That’s so sad she has no arm.’: Special needs mom shares important reminder to teach inclusivity

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“I’ll admit I’m scared. It’s feels very different this time.

Zorey will go to Kindergarten in two weeks, and I admit I feel scared for her. Five years old is too young to ignore staring or deflect cruel words.

Just last week, we were at a community event and I heard the following words spoken from other children.

‘What’s wrong with her?’
‘Oh, that’s so sad, she has no arm.’
‘She’s scary, I don’t like her.’
‘Why does she look like that?’

Add in pointing and staring at my daughter and I wanted to cry. I wanted to scoop her up and run back home.

But I didn’t.
I know she has to learn to handle the stares and the words.

My beautiful, opinionated and strong little girl is going to be stared at and called mean things. As she gets older, she’s starting to comprehend the stares and she’s starting to hear the words, and they hurt.

I understand kids are curious and notice differences. I also understand most parents are pretty horrified when their child points out my daughter and says something unkind.

So, I’m going to ask you to prepare your children for school this year. As you buy the backpack, and the crayons, and do all the school preparation things, please do the most important thing.

Talk with your child about new friends they might meet in their classroom. Explain that there might be children who walk different, talk different, act different.

Teach them some kids use wheelchairs, or walkers, or prosthetic legs. Explain different on the outside doesn’t mean they don’t feel the same on the inside.

I’m asking you to prepare your kids, because your child might attend school with a kid like Zorey.

Disability is not a tragedy.
Differences are all around us.
Disabled isn’t sad.
Different isn’t bad.
We all have unique differences.

Such simple concepts that are easily taught. It’s far harder to undo the stares and unkind words. It’s far easier to start out by saying, ‘Hello.’

Hello, this is Zorey. She loves Peppa Pig and for her next birthday she wants a fake tooth to trick the tooth fairy. Her favorite thing is pancakes and coffee for breakfast. She has a wubbanub and prosthetic leg, that’s how God made her.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stacey Jackson Gagnon and originally appeared here.

Little girl with a limb difference looks sassy while drinking a smoothie
Courtesy of Stacey Jackson Gagnon

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