When you are raising special needs children you know how painful it can be for your child to be excluded from other children and their activities. Sometimes your child’s challenges prohibit them from sharing an activity or experience that other children around them enjoy…but other times, it is either through prejudice or mis-information…or, a lack of understanding. No matter the reason, being excluded is not fun and can actually be harmful to your child’s self-esteem and their ability to form positive social interative relationships. Therefore, teaching how to accept and include others is a huge life lesson for families, schools, churches, organizations and agencies.
That is why i love the book called, The Friendship Puzzle. The children’s book is all about helping children to learn about the importance of accepting and including kids who are living with autism. It talks about differences and how friendships are formed once we understand each other. We have to learn to look beyond the surface of who a person appears to be different from ourselves; to see the real them. Then, we must find ways to include each other in our daily lives for a chance to become friends. Sometimes it is easy to misunderstand another person’s actions when we don’t understand why they do or say certain things; or, behave in a different way.
The Friendship Puzzle was written by Julie L. Coe and illustrated by Sondra l. Brassel. The book was inspired by Jennifer Maloni who’s children Dominic and Dylan are living with autism. The boys experienced a similar real life experience that was sad and disappointing. That experience is used in this book to make a difference in how we view people with disabilities. You can learn more about the book and where to purchase it here: http://www.friendshippuzzle.com/ This is not an affiliate link… it is just a book that I happen to adore.
That message, of accepting and including one another, is very profound. We can all apply that message in multiple ways to better the relationships we have with others without regard to abilities or disabilities; it is something that we can all improve on. This book and a recent news piece on an amusement park for those who are disabled reminded me of how often people neglect to include those who are different from ourselves in the things we enjoy; simply out of ignorance of how to do it.
The amusement park I read about is called Morgans Wonderland and it is in San Antonio, Texas. It was built by a father after a failed attempt by his daughter Morgan to interact in play with other children due to her disabilities and the lack of clear communication between the children alongside of a pool. The other children were playing with a beach ball and she wanted to play too…but lack of communication and understanding prevented continued play. This kind of situation can be heartbreaking…but in this case it was the catalyst he needed to dream of a place where special needs people and their families and caregivers could come and be included in all of the activities.
Gordon Hartman was the father and he has achieved his dream. Morgans Wonderland is a 25 acre park that lets the special need individual be themselves and experience the joy of an amusement park just like anyone else. They utilize volunteers at their park and they encourage families to come and enjoy their time together. I love the idea behind this park. If you are interested in learning more about Morgan’s Wonderland and all it has to offer…please click here: http://www.morganswonderland.com/morgans-wonderland-tell-us-about-inclusion.asp Again, this is not an affiliate link…it is just a place where a family can go to relax and have a positive family experience with their special needs loved one.
I just want to thank the Gordon Hartman’s and the Julie Coe’s of this world who realize the importance of acceptance and inclusion.
Guy began to leave his bed for longer periods of time. His appetite improved. He became strong enough to participate in a sheltered workshop program. Then he went to his workshop eagerly and more often.
The most amazing wonder of all was that after ten years, Guy Foster LEFT the nursing home to live in a Group Home setting, where he earns spending money from his job in a recycling center. He has a network of people with whom he exchanges letters and jokes; he has a standing invitation to drum with a group of Indian friends. He even enjoys regular visitors to his apartment and phone chats. He is proudly learning normal life skills.
At this writing, Guy Foster is 42 years young and full of vim, vinegar and vitality. He encourages others every day with his greeting cards, his empathy and his love. He also believes the world’s entire population should be drinking “his kind” of water!
What I would like to impart to anyone whose eyes have fallen on this page is this: Feed every family member organic whole foods when you can; pure, filtered water and lots of it. Get adequate amounts of sleep and rest and balance that with movement, exercise. Supplement everyone’s diets with whole foods supplements and add in green super foods and highly mineralized juices. Not just fruit juices, but the supplemental juice products used by the ounce. Use as much fresh, raw food as you possibly can because we all need the phytonutrients, anti-oxidants, enzymes and vitamin/mineral content that is so plentiful in fresh foods. I’d also encourage anyone to boldly immerse yourselves in the study of body work-Reiki, Ortho-bionomy, massage therapy- whatever strikes your fancy. Investigate the wonders of energy medicine. Learn all you can about herbs, homeopathic remedies, Macrobiotic foods, Ayurvedic methods, and whatever else resonates with you. Find a good chiropractor who understands that the body heals from the inside, not the other way around. Any health practitioner worth his salt will teach you a variety of complementary ways of working with bodies that may not be “perfect” according to someone’s standard. One more thing: Make the kinds of memories that cause you to laugh so hard your face and belly hurt!
Families who avoid artificial sweeteners, MSG, soda pop, processed, packaged and micro waved food products as well as fluoride-laden dental products will notice a huge improvement in the quality of their lives. These changes will be remarkable where issues are noted involving the nervous system, digestion, and elimination.
As soon as the physical body gets its needs met, the mental needs fall into line, along with the emotional and spiritual. When those requirements are satisfied, fewer behavior issues are problematic, sleep is more refreshing, cheer is the order of the day and peace can reign in the busiest household!
Thank you Connie for sharing with us the experiences that you have had and the knowledge that you dont have to accept life as status quo…you can seek therapies that enrich the lives of our special needs loved ones.