Friday, 29 June 2012

Respect others. Spread awareness.

A blog post within the parenting community has recently stirred up a lot of anger, with support both for and against what was written. Without going into too much detail, it was to do with some school children being promised a reward for good behaviour, but when one parent complained that it wasn't fair that their child couldn't have the reward, then for fear of litigation the reward was taken away from the deserving children.

Put like that, I think most people would agree that the situation is actually not fair for all those children who were promised a reward in the first place.

However as comments were left on the post, it was suggested that it was a child with special needs who was not being 'allowed' to share the reward.

I've always said that I'm a 'sit on the fence' kind of girl. It's not because I don't have conviction (I certainly do when it comes to my own children!), but more because I feel I try to look at everything from all sides of the story.

Recently I posted about the fact that my elder daughter was picked to go on a special school visit to see the Queen. Partly because she is consistently well behaved (although not overly confident or outstanding in her class, one of those who falls 'under the radar') but also party through lucky dip lottery. I was obviously delighted for her, but I know that there were other parents whose children were not picked, who thought that it was 'not fair'. I could sit back and say it's 'not fair' that I know my youngest child would never have been picked to go on such a special trip, as her disability would have made it very difficult for her and others. That's not bad behaviour though, she's not naughty, it's just how she is affected - is that 'fair'? No, and it obviously saddens me, but I wouldn't dream of suggesting the other children shouldn't have been allowed to go just because she can't.

Comments were suggesting this was what had happened in this case.

Lately I have been commenting less on other 'big issue' posts as I think more about the consequences of 'jumping on the bandwagon'.

I know I've been guilty of it in the past - when you are passionate about something, feelings explode and things are said which cannot be taken back. It's true in real life as well as online, of course. My two favourite expressions from my mum were 'if you can't say anything nice, then don't say it at all', and 'don't write anything down on paper which you wouldn't want to be read aloud and shared'. Obviously I've ignored that advice a few times (sorry Mum!) but I do think it's generally good advice.

The trouble is, that we don't all know all the facts of any story except our own. Having a child with special needs really has opened my eyes in that respect. I know that before we got Sasha's diagnosis, I didn't really have much of a clue about what autism was. I also wasn't really aware of the vast range of special needs that some other children, and adults have, and the complications to everyday life that go with that. I wasn't faced with it, therefore I didn't have to think about it.

Most families have their own problems to deal with, and this could be anything - special needs such as autism, or dyslexia, or hearing issues, or feeding/organ issues, but also right through to alcoholism, mental illness, poverty, loss of loved ones etc. We can't necessarily see them or know about all of them. Who's to say which of these issues is 'worse'? 

We don't know who is having to deal with what at any given time in their life, so personally I try and respect others. I'm not perfect though obviously, and so I don't get it right all of the time. Everyone has it in them to be little bit selfish; I just think we need to try and contain that as much as possible.

Statistics say there is a fair chance that Sasha will get bullied due to her special needs, but I'm really hoping that the peers in her year will learn to grow up with her, accepting that she is different, and taking her for who she is. It brightens me to see that happening already at school; long may it continue. 

I really hope that we can all come together and help spread awareness bit by bit, so that the world grows into a more tolerant place, and one where there is less anger and blame. I'm aware this means also taking the discussion off line for those who are not fans of modern technology, and when I have more than a second spare to myself that's the direction I'll be headed in.


  1. I'm always a bit hesitant to jump in on something as the internet has a funny way of changing things and before you know it the story is not what it originally was.

    I'm so happy for your daughter! To see the Queen?!? Oh My Gosh!!!

    1. Yay! Not that she got very close to her at all, but it was still an honour :-)

  2. As Lizbeth says, the internet is bad at distorting things and I am certainly going to try and avoid 'emotional' debates where everyone jumps on the bandwagon in future. I like discussion but not when it gets like the one we're referring to. It makes me quite stressed to be honest. Deb

    1. And the last thing you need is more stress! Focus your energy :-)

  3. Hi Steph, thanks for posting this, I won't add anymore, I've said enough already. I hope your daughter's class and school continue to accept and include her in a friendly way. We have been lucky with primary school. My Son is about to finish year 6 and that has been one of the lovely things, that the children in his class have basically grown up together. Most of them have known each other since nursery and they do, generally, accept each other. I am keeping my fingers crossed for High School, but am actually really quite nervous about it. - I feel a few more blog posts coming on...I hope she carries on doing well.

    1. Thanks. Yes we've been really lucky so far; glad to hear you have too. hope High School is better than you think it is going to be :-) x

  4. I agree, I always try to see a balanced view too, and I love this post as I've been writing and thinking a lot about true inclusion recently.

    1. Thanks. Awareness is the aim of the game, and you are doing the most fabulous job of that - thanks from all of us to you!


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