Inclusion is very important in the community that you live. No matter what your circumstances – whether your child is typical, has autism, has a physical challenge, whatever the situation may be.
Is this easy to find?
Well, from my experience, I would have to answer “no” to this question.
Is it possible? Yes. Can it be challenging? Absolutely!
You see, I always wondered why before I entered the world of autism. Why didn’t people know what to do? Why did people look at my child strangely? Why, why, why?
I didn’t have any answers, only questions as to why it was so difficult.
This was very clear to me when our son was younger. You see we wanted to put him in gymnastics, soccer, basketball, swimming, scouts to see what he liked, but how did we do this?
Well, we were fortunate enough to have someone working with our family at this time, so we decided to enroll him in some activities and then have a support person go with him to help guide him and keep him on track, assisting him socially but also him being able to have fun with other children his age.
This was not easy. We had to usually talk to whoever was running the program. For example, at scouts, we asked if we could go see what a typical night looked like to see if it would be a good fit for him. Once we found a unit, we had a support person go with him to the meetings and the outings. At the beginning of the session, my husband would talk to the group, tell them about our son’s autism and a few things that would help him be successful. The kids were always amazing!
Isn’t that just the way it goes? Kids are very accepting of differences, in fact, they don’t even think about it most of the time.
Although our son was not able to participate fully in all of the activities (camps were tough because of nightly rituals and medication needs) he was still able to do most things and have a blast doing it! It’s not about what they can’t do, but about what they can do.
The picture above is our son at the bottom of the hill where his scout troop went tubing last week. He had a blast! He went up the tow rope and down the hill with no issues at all. He absolutely loves scouts and he loves the snow!
We are grateful to kind, caring people who, even if they don’t understand, will make every effort to ensure that he is included. Even the people at the ski resort were fantastic!
I think it’s all about educating people, trusting that people really do want to help and putting yourself out there and your child, even if activities have to be modified for them to enjoy. Having realistic expectations and trying new experiences is, in my opinion, the name of the game. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to enroll in things or let your child enjoy experiences that other children do. Make your child part of their community. It’s up to us parents to set the tone!
And if one thing doesn’t work out, don’t sweat it as there are many, many sports and activities that every child can be a part of.
Let me challenge you today to step out of that cushy comfort zone of your home and try one new thing this season! Let me assure you that you will not regret it!