The Atypical Child

all kidsI feel a little strange writing this, but many of my friends with children with things such as autism or ADHD or other things refer to their kids as atypical, and I kind of like it. I like how it helps define it without putting a label on it. They aren’t special in the negative way, just as typical or “normal” kids aren’t ordinary or boring because their brains or bodies function a certain way. I love that it’s the typical child, who functions as most children do, and the atypical child, whose body just functions differently.

I also love getting together with these friends, with their beautifully different little people. #1 is at that age where he notices differences, but we can talk about it and then he just lets it go. One friend has the sweetest little girl with Angelman Syndrome. She’s the sweetest thing with the biggest smile, beautiful white-blonde hair and big blue eyes. We talked before we visited about how she’s the size of a two-year old, but she thinks like #2 does, and that that’s ok. #1 listened, asked why she was like that (to which I said, “Because God made her like that, just like he made you with your angel’s kiss”), and then he just went with it. He played with her and #2 for 3 hours and treated her awesome. (Granted, there were definitely some times where he got a little sassy, but he’s only 4. I’ll let him get by with that.)

I love that. I love that, just like he doesn’t see race when he sees his teachers (his blonde teacher and his brown teacher), he doesn’t see her as being “strange” or “weird.” She’s just “different,” and he accepts that. I want him to grow up keeping that thought. When atypical kids come into his classroom at school, I want him to think, “I should go be their friend,” not “why are they weird and different?” When a student comes in who is deaf, I hope he reaches out and smiles at them rather than makes fun of their signing. When someone has Down’s Syndrome, I hope he helps them, rather than teases them. If someone has autism or a stutter or any of the other myriad things that children can have, I hope he has compassion. I hope he isn’t one of the bullies, or one of the people who just stares.

And I think that’s something we should all want for our children. If my children ever in the future have something that makes them atypical, I hope some other little boy or girl comes along and loves them as they are. I hope someone stands up for them if others bully them. I hope someone reaches out and tries to understand. And by hoping that, I will do my best to make sure my children have to skills to be that person for someone else, if they choose to.

I’m not perfect. My kids aren’t, either. I catch myself staring sometimes. I often catch myself not knowing what to say to parents with atypical kids. If you have kids with these differences, will you share with us what you wish parents or kids would say or do? Because I often find myself stumbling over my words and being all-around a clumsy example for #1. Thankfully, he is still oblivious. I can take my cues from him. And hopefully, he will keep that kind heart as he gets older.

So what are your thoughts? What do you wish your kids did? What do you wish people would do differently? Please share! 🙂

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