I met Jess from Jessplusthemess through Tiffani Powell, whose episode you can find here. As you can hear in Episode 4, we hit it off right away! I loved so much about our conversation, but one of my favorite takeaways comes from talking about Luke.
Luke is one of Jess’ 8 kids who happens to have profound special needs. Jess isn’t my first friend to parent a child with special needs. I’ve heard moms talk about their children being stared at or grown-ups asking dumb questions or other kids being mean to their children. So I decided to ask about what to say to my own child when he notices a child “walking funny” or “with wheels” (words he’s used himself).
Jess’ advice was good. It’s what my mommy instinct already told me, for the most part. Most moms like to talk about their kids, so asking thoughtful questions seems like a logical option.
Another thing I always encouraged my students to do with other kids (special needs or not) was to find what you have in common. I’ve been trying to encourage my son (he’s 3) to find things that are the same and talk about those things first.
I tried a little experiment. I showed him a picture of a child in a wheel chair and asked him a couple of questions. Here’s how that conversation went…
ME: “Blake, what would you say to this child if you saw them at the park?”
ME: “Ok. Would you want to ask them any questions?”
Blake: “Yes…do you want to play with me?”
So. There ya have it, folks. I’m completely over thinking this.
And I think that’s what Jesus means when He says:
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3-4
I don’t think this means that kids don’t see differences, because they do. My three-year-old notices when somebody has darker skin or walks differently or has hair that sticks up or “has wheels”. But he doesn’t care. None of those things mean more than face value to him. He sees every child as a potential play mate. He sees every kid as somebody who would want to do the same things he likes to do.
So maybe the answer to my question “how do I teach my child how to react to children with special needs?” is “let my child teach me.”
For more information about Luke and the Lucas Project, please visit thelucasproject.org