Inclusion is one of the most amazing things that places like Sesame Place offer, and best of all, there are supports in place to support our kids. Go out, try new things, and follow your child’s lead; the worst thing that can happen is a meltdown (we deal with these anyway). But the best thing that can happen is the making of incredible memories.
When every child is shown early on that inclusiveness is a paramount value to strive for, we all win.
The message is difficult. The role of the messenger is delicate. I want to help. I know what they have yet to know. How do we share what we learn? What form does it take? Where and how do we tell others? When we discover solutions that work for our child, we cannot be surprised if we feel compelled to share.
Naturally, since [my son] was soon to turn 3, this momma thought, “Let’s go to Disney World;” but then I stopped to question, “Is Disney World autism-friendly? What about the plane ride? Do children with autism get special accommodations?”
One essential thing I learned is that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. If anything, it is a sign of strength. We often feel the pressure of being a perfect parent—pretending we are coping effectively—but we need to talk about the stresses and strain. It is okay not to find it easy. And I didn’t.
As a mother I don't necessarily want my children in a different class, or to have to go to annual IEP meetings for each of them. But I respond and say they are my children, and in my eyes they are perfect, and as a mother I will always do my best to make sure they get the appropriate help and the education they deserve.
What I do know — and know more so now than ever as a result of the current political climate — is that I never would want to change who Jack is: a beautiful person with a soul full of organic sunshine, joy, happiness, and pure, simple love.
And during the next few years, we as a community may need to advocate in ways we never have before to protect the educational and civil rights of people like Jack, and of all people with disabilities.