Kristen Miller Rumphol never thought she would have to write an open letter and share it on Facebook to explain her son’s special needs.
But an afternoon at the local swimming pool changed all that. Kristen was dismayed when she saw her young son Brandon who has Down’s Syndrome bravely approaching other children and asking them to play but being rejected each time.
Kristen wrote: “Today at the swimming pool my heart was breaking!
"You see NO ONE wanted to play with my son. He would go up to other kids and say: ‘Hi boy or hi girl.’ He is still categorised as nonverbal and he is hard to understand but he was trying his best! Every single time the kids would either look at him weird and say nothing or just swim away.”
How devastating for young Brandon who clearly just wanted to play and have fun like any other kid.
Watching the scenario unfold was incredibly difficult for Kristen. She said: “Brandon would look back at me with a look of disappointment. Not understanding why the kids were being mean to him.”
She pleaded with other parents to stress the importance of inclusion to their kids.
“Parents, please educate your children! Tell your children that children with special needs want the same thing they do, they want to be accepted. They want to be included and treated just like every other "normal" child. They want friends that won't judge them and will just accept them as they are. “
She concedes that explaining special needs can be difficult to a young child and recommends the following approach.
“If they ask: ‘What is Down syndrome?’ Tell them it is a third copy of the 21st chromosome. Every person with Down Syndrome will learn to do the same thing as everyone else it just takes them longer to get there. They will need more help but they WILL get there!”
Kristen revealed that she hoped her post would go viral to help promote understanding and asked her friends to share her post.
“Help me to spread awareness for all children with special needs just not Down Syndrome. They just want to be loved, accepted and included,” she concluded.
The anecdote touched the hearts of parents of special needs children and those of non-special needs children alike and the post has since been shared over 15,000 times.
This is a really important message and we hope it will help parents discuss the topic of inclusion with their families.