Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Left out

I want to share a comment written last week on our most popular post.

The Invisible Mom, written by Sue Robins, has had almost 22,000 views and generated 80 comments.

It's about how mothers of kids with disabilities can face the same social exclusion their kids face: "In the foyer of every elementary school there's a gaggle of moms standing in a tight circle, waiting to pick up their kids," Sue writes. "In the 10 years I've parented my son Aaron, I’ve never cracked that circle. I've walked past that circle hundreds of times and nobody has ever shifted—ever so slightlyto give me room to join in."

And not only do these 'typical' parents ostracize parents like Sue, she writes, but they seem to sanction 'leaving the kid with disability out' when it comes to their child's birthdays and other get-togethers.

Sue wrote her piece over a year ago, yet listen to how it hit this parent.

Do parents of kids without disabilities have any inkling that this is reality for many of our kids? If they did, would they care? Louise 

Thanks for writing this. It has been in my heart for years. Yes, I know too well the gaggle of moms and dads. Like a gauntlet to run every day.

Every year I have hosted a birthday party for my child, every year something fantastic: a bouncy castle, paid entertainment, tons of loot. Every year the kids came, sometimes even ones not invited. But the reciprocal invitations never arrived. This year, he turned 12, and only one child showed up, despite the party being held somewhere all kids love. And this one kid probably came because I pay him to do yard work. I guess at 12 they are all too cool to go to the "retarded" kid's party. My sweet loving boy spent his birthday in tears. How do you explain it to a child? I don't know


Thanks so much for the mention, Louise. My husband helpfully suggested that instead of just complaining about being excluded, perhaps I could offer up some solutions for parents of typically developing kids.

So I did that here:

Of note, we started a Family Inclusion Group at our school (of parents with kids with 'special needs') and we handed out this essay to the greater Parent Council last week. They are truly befuddled as to how to include our children in a meaningful way. Hopefully these words are constructive and helpful! I'd be interested to know what y'all think....

Great post and terrific suggestions, Sue! I think one thing to remember is that pre-teens and teens don't have parties - they go out in smaller groups. Perhaps if one friend (that's all anyone really needs) and his/her parents were to join for a family dinner or night out, that would make a great birthday celebration. Even if it's just extended family. Over the years, I have found that it's important to invite only those who truly love my son (luckily, there's a lot of love in our family). Friends were paid helpers, but that's OK, because even they came to a birthday if it was on their day off . Nick's birthdays in his older years have been small affairs with mainly family and one or two friends who are also helpers. That's OK, we have a great time!

Thank you Sue for posting your piece to parents of typical kids on how they can encourage their kids to include those with differences. I'd love you to keep us posted on this initiative and perhaps write a follow-up piece. xo

Thank you Donna for sharing your ideas! I think you have a great attitude!

Check out this beautiful post in response to The Invisible Mom by Julie Drury