She’s Just a Kid who Never Learned to Discriminate

An elementary school friend of mine has a daughter not much younger than my own.

These days, we only connected through social media and a shared love of our small hometown memories.

My daughter had a major speech delay; so did hers.  We bonded over the similarities.  

Her daughter Harper was diagnosed with autism; with a lot of speech therapy–my kid learned to form words. 

When Kate was old enough to learn about autism, we started discussing it.

I mean, we started discussing it before three. She asked all the time about my friend’s kid and I would keep her updated on all of her activities and videos, and how hard it was at times for her and her mom and also how amazing they both are. 

When Kate was in PreK, there was a little girl at her daycare who clearly was autistic…but it wasn’t something discussed.  Until my kid started coming home and saying, “I played with Brynn by myself today because she was hitting people and nobody would play with her”. 

“I didn’t want her to be left alone, Mommy.”

Kate started Kindergarten in NYC at 4.  That meant a pretty lengthy walk every morning with everyone falling in line as we got closer to the schoolyard. 

One morning, we saw an older boy becoming aggressive with his Mom.  Mom was calm.  It was easy to tell that this was something she dealt with frequently and it didn’t faze her (on the outside at least).

She just kept on walking with purpose beside her son.

We were about thirty feet behind, so I intentionally slowed down and explained to Kate that this 3rd or 4thgrader wasn’t a bad kid for hitting his mom; he just has a brain that is wired differently and he’s trying very hard.  She got it. 

Fast forward to 3rd grade and my kid says, “Do you remember that boy with autism that we used to walk to school with?  He was at my playdate this week.  He’s pretty cool.”

A few weeks ago, she had $200 to spend on school clothes from her dad.  

She invited a 42-year-old to go with her. That 42-year-old is autistic. 

They went to the hair salon and then had a crazy shopping spree at Claire’s. They sang Madonna and New Kids on the Block.  

They ate Chik Fil A sandwiches and drank lemonade. 

When we got back to the house, Kate looked at me and said, “Well, this was one of the best days of my life.” 

Kids see autism, but like skin color—they don’t see it as a bad thing unless someone teaches them to do so.

Those kids who aren’t nice to autistic kids?  It’s because of their parents.  

And if I were you (or if I ever witness it firsthand), I would approach the parents and tell them exactly how you feel and remind them how easy it is for a child to be accepting. 

I would tell them that it’s a shame they aren’t accepting of kids who are different. 

I know this isn’t your typical piece; it just occurred to me that maybe some people need to see it from the other side. 

My kid is not some angelic empath…she’s just a kid who never learned to discriminate.

Written by, Aimee Proctor

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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