Whenever Nate and I are in a public place, I notice how children look at him. Their young eyes and minds, look with interest as some turn their head in his direction, wondering who Nate is, and why he looks, or acts the way he does.
This is expected of children, because everything to a child is intriguing. Their surroundings, with its many places, people, and things evoke curiosity.
I see this clearly in some children every Saturday morning when Nate and I are leaving our morning swim. As we move through the lobby, encountering the 9am crowd of parents and children, we usually receive looks and stares from little ones. They point at Nate, as they ask their parents, “What’s wrong with him?” And I have watched numerous times, as parents become embarrassed, as they hurry their children along, telling them to hush, while not answering their question.
Yet, I don’t want parents to be ashamed by their child’s questions. In no way should they quiet their child or not answer them. However, I would prefer that each parent use that time as a teachable moment.
Use your child’s curiosity at their early age to teach them about other children. Share with them about children who may not look like they do, walk like them, or talk like them. Teach them about children who are nonverbal or use a wheelchair or other devices to get around. Talk to them about children who learn in a way that is good for them. Teach them about children who are sick, either at home or in a hospital…..
Just, whatever you do…. teach them.
When you make the decision to teach them at an early age, you are preparing your child for the future. A future, where they will see individuals who who are have different needs or concerns, than they have. And it will allow them to develop a heart that is kind, considerate and caring for those who have special needs.