By Julie Fisher
Give people a change and watch them shine
After publishing my first book The Unexpected Journey, I saw a need for more awareness to be raised and saw a real need for more of our story to be shared to give our experiences and the strategies we have used for our son Darcy, both for us and for him.
I saw a great need for inclusion and acceptance to be talked about and late in 2021 The Magic of Inclusion was released. This is a very broad subject and by sharing my experiences, I hope people will understand a little more about how important it is.
Inclusion isn’t something that anyone should have to fight for, but for many, this is an everyday battle that feels like it will never end. Everyone has their own stories about what is important to them, but the main thing is for people to be seen and heard.
For some, it is just being able to have some space to take themselves after a busy environment like the classroom; to be able to gather their thoughts and regulate themselves to be ready for the next class. For others, it is feeling comfortable wherever they go and with whatever they are doing or feeling comfortable advocating for their child or loved one.
Sometimes people staring can make someone feel as though they shouldn’t be there, and if you find yourself doing this, then a simple smile can change everything. It makes the stare change to a look and the smile lets them know you are not judging them for how they look or how they may be behaving.
My son makes a noise when he is feeling a little tired and he also stims with a toy or headphones, and this causes people to look quite often. He has Down syndrome which is a visible disability and sometimes the looks we get are because of his disability.
Another side of it is speaking to him rather than me. He understands everything that is being said to him and it’s important for his social skills and feeling included for people to talk to him. Sometimes I may have to help him with communication, but that’s okay. It’s still very important to acknowledge him.
Have you ever thought what it would be like if your child, or someone you care for, was made to feel like they shouldn’t be somewhere or shouldn’t do something that others take for granted? If you took your child to a play centre, park or the movies and they were excluded by others, just because they looked or behaved differently? And that is what I am talking about by giving a smile.
Unfortunately, being made to feel excluded happens every day, to so many children and their families. It happens far too often to children with a disability, but it also happens to many children without disabilities.
There are also instances where people will point or make unkind comments that are really not necessary. I often wonder why this happens and why people think it is okay to do this?
As a mum of a young boy with Down syndrome, I know first hand the heartbreak of seeing your child be made to feel like they don’t belong. I have also experienced the flipside, where acceptance and inclusion made magic happen, and I have made it my passion to educate others on the profound impact even the smallest acts of inclusion can have on the lives of others.
In my book I share real-life stories that demonstrate why we must promote inclusion not just in groups, clubs, and organisations, but also in our everyday interactions with others.
The Magic of Inclusion shows us how the simple act of including others can be life changing. It’s so important to be part of the solution and accept everyone for who they are. See them and hear their voice.
Give them a chance to experience life as we all do.
Just be kind and remember that we are all different, but we are also all the same. We all have dreams and aspirations, wants and needs and should be allowed to achieve those without worrying about judgement from others or having to advocate heavily just to make it happen.
- If you find yourself staring at someone, just give a smile or a wave. This changes everything from a negative to a positive situation. It allows everyone to go about their day happily.
- Say hello and if you are interested, start a conversation and ask questions. I would always prefer people to come and talk to me and my son and ask questions rather that make assumptions.
- Imagine yourself if you felt as though your child were being judged because of the way they look or behave. Imagine feeling as though you shouldn’t be somewhere with them. If you find yourself staring at someone, imagine if it were the other way around and how you would feel.
- We all look at people when we are out in the community, but rather than just look and have it perceived as a stare and being judgemental, give that smile or wave. It really does make a huge difference.
Everyone has the right to enjoy life without feeling as though they are being excluded and everyone has something to give.
Open your heart and see the person, not the disability. Someone’s disability is a big part of who they are, but it is not everything they are.
We are all people.
Contact Julie at email@example.com to enquire about her speaking at your event to share their journey and the strategies her family have put in place for their son Darcy in everyday life and schooling.