Today was the first day of school for our special needs daughter Ladybug. The last couple years I have offered to come share with the class about what makes her special. I always worry about how the kids will respond to having a special needs child in the class and how accepting they will be. I appreciate that the teachers have been open to inviting me in to introduce her to the class.
Since we have therapy appointments every day before school, we get to school a little late. Because we come late, it’s a perfect time for me to introduce Ladybug to the class when I drop her off. By this time all the other students are done with breakfast and settled in for the first day of school.
Explaining Cerebral Palsy
First I explain what cerebral palsy is, and how it effects Ladybug’s muscles. We talk about how she does things differently, and why she has a para professional to help her with tasks. I talk about the wheelchair, and why they can’t touch the buttons even though they look pretty cool. I tell the kids that even though she doesn’t say as many words as everyone else, she still understands.
Still a Kid, Just a Special Needs Kid
Most importantly, I share how even though she’s different she is still very similar to the rest of the class. We talked about how she likes going to the library just like her classmates. I explained that she likes the same cartoons and books. One of the girls in the class asked if I liked her My Little Pony dress. I said that I did, and used it as an opportunity to share the Ladybug likes My Little Pony too. It was a perfect way to show how they have something in common. This of course lead to a rabbit trail of who does and who doesn’t like My Little Pony! Some of the kids were in her class last year too, so I asked what activities they did with her. It was fun to hear what they had to say.
Some of the kids started making statements like “she won’t be able to play tag with us”. I LOVED this statement because it lead into my next point. I explained that she might not be able to do everything, but sometimes you can simply change the way you play a game so Ladybug can be included. I suggested when they play tag maybe instead of running to play the game, everyone hops on one foot. This simple change would give Ladybug a chance to keep up.
Sometimes it just takes a little creativity to play games with Ladybug. After all, she loves to play games just as much as everyone else. I did however have to agree with the child who said she can’t drive her wheelchair up the steps at the playground. Sadly there is no way to adapt the wheelchair for this, but Ladybug is learning to climb those steps 🙂
Set My Mind at Ease
Sharing with the class was good for both Ladybug to be introduced to the class, and for me as her mom to see the kids respond so well to her. It was fun and comforting to see the kids welcome Ladybug to their class and see their willingness to accept her for who she is.
It will be exciting to see her grow, learn, and make new friends as she heads off to first grade!