When You Include Me

Jodi Shenal by Jodi Shenal Additional Needs

Jodi Shenal

Jodi Shenal

I'm a stay-at-home mom with two amazing children. My son is on the Autism spectrum and my daughter has a rare genetic disorder and multiple disabil...

When You Include Me

When you include me, I’m not just a kid in that class at the end of the hall.

I’m not an outlier, on the fringe of my school’s community.

When you include me, I’m an equal and valuable member of it.

When you include me, I’m not sitting alone on the sidelines, watching the other children running and playing in PE class.

I’m right there with my classmates, participating in an adaptive way. I’m involved with my peers; I’m not left to idly observe them.

When you include me, you see beyond my disabilities. You focus on my abilities.

You don’t fixate on what I can’t do; you celebrate all the things that I CAN do. You raise me up and help me to be as independent as possible. You see past all labels and limitations.

When you include me, you make a place for me.

You make accommodations for me. Not because you’re legally required to, but because you genuinely see the value in my being a part of your team. You see my worth.

When you include me, you give me opportunities. Barriers and blocked access are removed. You make sure that my environment is comfortable and safe. You ensure that I am given fair means to learn and play.

When you include me, you give me a hand when I need it. You support me with my communication device, and you want to hear my opinions. You help me find my voice and express myself, rather than having me sit by in silence. When you include me, you’re excited about my progress, no matter how slow the pace.

You and others around me give encouragement to help me succeed.

When you include me, you think outside the box when it comes to connecting with me. If I don’t respond to one strategy or method, you try other ways. You show me flexibility and understanding and give me time to process things at my speed.

When you include me, you show me kindness. You don’t stare at me or fear me. You ask questions and make a true effort to get to know me. You extend your friendship to me.

When you include me, you enrich my life, and you enrich the lives of those around me.

When you include me, I feel it. My Mom does too, and she is ever so grateful. Her heart is full when I’m included, and she’s so thankful that I was given a chance. She hopes you realize the great depth of her appreciation and that you’ll see how truly awesome I am!

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