Last night we were at a reception at our local library honoring our daughter for an art contest she had won. It was an extremely special night for her. Once we got home, she called me into her room and told me she needed to talk to me about something bad that happened at the library. Apparently two kids had come up to my son Spencer, who has intellectual disabilities, and said hi. He said hi back but once they turned to leave, my daughter over-heard them say “he’s weird.” This upset her terribly and she wanted to say something to them but they had already left.
It’s hard enough for our kids to deal with the typical teasing that goes on in school but for siblings of special needs kids, they have the added pressure of “protecting” their brother or sister. As more kids are diagnosed with autism and other issues, I’m hoping that tolerance grows. I’m so grateful that my daughter has a strong character and has already learned that discrimination of any kind is ignorant and wrong. She tells me that if kids got to know her brother, they’d see that he’s the most kind and loyal friend anyone could ask for.
When Spencer and I went to see Ironman 2 this weekend, a PSA was playing for non-profit organization started by Glenn Close, BringChange2Mind – www.bringchange2mind.org which works to build awareness and tolerance for people with mental illness. I encourage everyone to visit this site and learn more. It’s my hope that the next generation will understand that everyone, regardless of their disabilties, deserves dignity and respect.
Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant.