In a high school cafeteria.
Why is it that a table of football players is just that! A table of guys who play football together, they share a hobby which makes them spend time together so at lunch they sit together.
Same goes for the cheerleaders.
And so on.
In this jungle there is a table of kids with various abilities. The special need table.
Some people look at it as the place they (the special need kids) have to eat. You know because they don’t belong in the other groups…
I disagree. They don’t sit together because they don’t belong… They sit together because like the football players and the cheerleaders, they have something in common.
It’s a new year, they are 3 weeks in and getting to know each other.
Emily for the first time ever feels comfortable at lunch. She sits at her table. With kids kinda like her in some ways. One of the similitude being their challenge to connect and communicate with other kids their age. They need responsible adults with them for their safety as well as for extra help here and there.
It bothers me when I am told that my child should be included in whichever group she picks…
Life doesn’t work like that. If you are the uncoordinated nerd, you don’t make it to the cheerleader table or squad. It you are the guy in the school band, your chances are slim that you will be sitting with the football players.
I know, High School Musical and Glee told us its feasible. If you believe in yourself enough you can make it happen.
Blah blah blah
Do you ask your kid that feels comfortable being in the AV club to go get included somewhere else?
Do you tell your kid that being with like minded people is not ok, that it is a form of segregation?
Why should I tell my daughter that her table is a form of segregation?
Why do we, as a society, look at it as if our kids with special need are being excluded when in reality they are finally included?
Why can’t them having a table means that they have found like minded people?
They have, in my opinion, the best table.
No judging each other regardless of what is going on. Smiling, sometimes probably laughing. Over the years, they will get to know each other better… Emily might get invited to a birthday party or a BBQ. She might find a love interest and will most likely make life long friendship.
Not like yours or my friendships but still… Who’s to say her friendships won’t be awesome?
Being different is difficult. It’s difficult on Emily and its difficult for us to see her struggle.
She’s found a lunch table that accepts her for her! It’s not segregation, its a meeting of amazing like minded individuals.
Trust me when I say that they are having fun and connecting in ways that most of us will never understand…
And that my friends is why not everybody can sit at their table!
Absolutely loved this post – when I teach I am always dismayed at the amount of children that believe there is such a thing as ‘normal,’ and who strive to be seen as such.
Thank you. Normal is a really strange concept!
I am with you on this!
You have such a smart and beautiful perspective Emily’s mom ! No wonder I always say at YOUR table for lunch 🙂
😘 you will always be welcome at my table
Reblogged this on Lessons from my daughter and commented:
I wrote this a while back and still feel strongly about this subject.
Please let me know what you think in the comment section!
I love this and absolutely agree! I never thought of it this way but you are so right. Thank you for changing my perspective. I plan to pass it on too. 🙂
Thank you Emily 💜
You know….. I never really thought about it this way. This is true. Thank you for making me see things from another perspective.
My pleasure 💜. Thank you for reading!
Ah, but tables of football players and cheerleaders are tables of sheep. Albert Einstein would not have been at those tables nor would Picasso, Baudelaire, Charles Dickens or anyone I would have found interesting to talk to. Their views on life, the world were often so narrow. No, I wouldn’t have been at those tables being too introverted with too much going on in my life. I also would have found them boring. My older son was usually at the ‘jocks’ table and the others were more like me.
We didn’t have much for sports or associations in my school growing up so we sat with friends and moved tables. Emily is slowly finding her place in her high school world and I’m hoping she’ll find her place in the world after high school.
With the support and love she gets from home, I have no doubt she will.
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This article made me cry! Thank you for saying this. My son is autistic, and as such has struggled to make friends. He’s now in middle and well-liked by most, but he does hang out primarily with kids that are like he is. At first glance, it probably does seem as though he’s being segregated away from the “normal” kids. But, like you say here, he’s just hanging our with a like-minded crowd, those he has something in common with. He’s a happy kid, doesn’t feel excluded. He knows he’s different, but we’ve worked tirelessly to help him understand that doesn’t mean worse. That he is what he is, accept him or move along. He’s learning being different is ok. And the kids he eats lunch with understand this in him. They’re learning the same thing.
Thank you for reading and commenting. Emily knows she is different and she has spent many lunch hours on her own, eating lunch at her desk while other kids moved to be with their friends. Kids with special needs are spread in regular classes so up till high school she was the only one in her class and lunch conversation with her peers are difficult as her interests are different and her pretend world his predominant. She is much happier now and we strive for happiness. I hope you will keep reading!
Absolutely! We are terrified about him moving onto high school. We live in a small town so most of the kids at his middle school already knew him from elementary school. My wife really worries about it. He’s maturing though and I think by then he’ll be ok. Of course, he hasn’t hit puberty yet, so that’ll bring new challenges.
Which school terrified me for Emily and she loves it. She’s doing well and feels comfortable there. Although on her first day, I had my first breakdown ever. Dropping her off scared me so much.
I worry a lot less than I used to! But going into high school is a different animal. Combine that with the typical puberty issues and anxieties and it concerns is. He, and we, will make it though. Hope he has as good an experience as your daughter has. Makes your life a lot easier, huh?
Her happiness makes everything easier!
Here is how my first day of Emily’s high school career went!
And yes, I joined a committee and no, nothing as changed yet for the first day but I’m still working in it.
I just read it. It could’ve been written about us. I bet we could talk for hours about the run-around we got from numerous docs, PhDs, and psychologists before getting a definitive diagnosis. It’s been a trip.
Emily had all the symptoms at birth for a early diagnosis. It took us a year before the doctors agreed that we could be right. We got her diagnosis she was 15 months old. Even at the children’s hospital, our doctors only gave us text book answers. No one knew much and most of them had never seen a baby or in our case a 15 months old girl with cri du chat syndrome.
I’ll have to educate myself on that. I’m in healthcare, but I’m not familiar with that. Our son is autistic, which is not at all uncommon, of course. We started intervention with First Steps at around two. That ends when they turn 3. Started per-school then, and started with plethora of visits to try and acquire a diagnosis more specific than “spectrum disorder”. We wanted to know wtf we were dealing with. Finally got Autism diagnosis at around 8-9yo. It was an odyssey.
The diagnosis of cri du chat syndrome comes with a really negative outcome of your child won’t do anything. We were told (and some parents are still being told) that Emily would never walk, talk or even recognize us. She was going to need to be fed by tube and would not even show or recognize emotions. We were devastated but knew she could recognize us and knew we could feed her… Lots of patience was required but we could. If you want and have the time, you can go back to some of my earlier posts, I think I did an ok job at giving some good information and resources.
I’ll certainly check it out. Sounds y’all and she has done an amazing job of beating the odds! How awesomely proud of her you must be! Awesome story! I’m following now so keep posting! Can’t wait read more.
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who is ‘normal’ after all? as a teacher, i see a range of kids and love and enthusiasm and curiosity comes in all shapes and sizes. i look forward to all kinds of kids in my class, they teach each other so much, and they learn lessons from each other, that we could never begin to teach. i’m happy to have found your blog through the great connector, tric, and look forward to reading more – best, beth
Normal is over rated. Thank you for reading me and I hope you keep enjoying it!
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I thought this was a great post. I have selected it as one of my “freshly impressed” posts. I’ll be posting later today. I hope that is okay with you.
That is really fine with me. In glad you liked it
Wonderful post, I love reading others who see what makes their child happy instead of fighting for something he or she doesn’t even want. There is a set of parents who tell you you are giving up on your child and not fighting hard enough if you send them to an all special needs school, yet we did it for exactly that reason. She has real friends, has been to all the proms, and even has a boyfriend! And as disrespectful, mean, and selfish many “typical” kids are nowadays, why would I want her to aspire to that anyway?
I agree. There is no options here to send her to an all special need school. If they were, we would have been looking into it years ago. I are it as no different than the sport program school or the international program school. If there’s a place for super brilliant kids or super sporty kids, why shouldn’t there be a place for my kid? As Emily is getting older, my opinion of what’s best keeps evolving to what I see would be best for her!
This article moved me. We should accept any kind of individuals in the society. Besides normal is boring.
Thank you for your comment. I think, as a society< we are making progress in accepting but still as a log way to go in really including. One small step at the time is the way to go.
I agree with you, but honestly, I never thought of it as segregation. I guess it’s all about perspective! I agree that you sit with those that you are comfortable with, and that’s true throughout all of live, you find and hangout with people you want to! It’s not exclusion from others, it’s inclusion with those you like! 🙂
Exactly! I’m so happy she has a place where she is welcomed at lunch. She’s had years where she had lunch alone at her desk because the kids around her all moved to sit with friends. Those were difficult weeks/months of feeling invisible.
As a parent that breaks your heart!! I’m so glad that she seems to be transitioning well!
Brilliant, So very true. I have a friend who fought so very hard for her autistic boy to go to a mainstream school. Four years later she began another fight to get him out. Now he is almost an adult and he has had many years in a “special” school. There he has learned so much of what he needed to learn and enjoyed every day.
There is a lot of difference in the world it is good when we can find commonality!
Thank you. Here all kids are in regular class, all kids with special need are integrated. So far 11 years now, Emily was the only kid with special needs in her class. The concept is flawed a little as it made it almost impossible for her to meet like-minded individuals.
Yes as if that was a bad thing. Why? Are we only accepting of “normality”.