“There’s a little girl in my son Nicholas’ class. I’ll call her ‘E.’
Nicholas and E just met this year in Kindergarten. They like to play outside together. They like to sit with each other in school. They even like to hold hands. You may think this is a typical friendship story. A cute little love story. You may think you’ve already heard this story before. But this is different. This is a story of inclusion, acceptance, and kindness.
Nicholas has autism and is in the special education class at a public school. He spends most of his day in therapies and learning life skills to help him be as independent as he can. Throughout the day, he spends time in the general education Kindergarten class. He participates in Morning Circle time with them where they read books, learns the letters of the alphabet, dance, and sing songs. Nicholas also plays outside at recess with them. This is the class that E is in.
E always sits by Nicholas. She always grabs his hand. They spend a lot of time together when they can. The most beautiful thing about their friendship is how she talks to him. She talks to him even though he can’t talk back. She understands he doesn’t talk, but she does it anyway. This is inclusion.
E hangs out with Nicholas despite him having a disability. She wants to be friends with him even though he is different from her. This is acceptance.
E understands Nicholas can’t communicate as she can. She accepts him anyway. She knows he thinks and processes things a little slower than other kids. She still gravitates toward him. This is kindness.
E is nice to Nicholas. She isn’t a bully and doesn’t pick on him because he is different. She doesn’t treat him any less because he has autism.
E has a beautiful heart. I reached out to her mom to express my gratitude for raising such a thoughtful daughter. I learned that E talks about Nicholas all the time at home. She said she’s a helper by nature, which is something Nicholas’s para, or teacher assistant, mentioned as well. She’s very motherly but doesn’t pity him. She truly loves being with him.
And Nicholas really enjoys her company too. Now that we’re doing remote learning, he doesn’t get to see her in-person. However, he still gets excited when he sees her on the computer. He knows who she is and understands she’s his friend. He made a card for her on her birthday.
As a mother to a child with special needs, it melts my heart to see somebody accept my son for who he is. I love that Nicholas has such a genuine friendship with this little girl. With the season of Thanksgiving just recently upon us, I want to give thanks that my son is being included at school. I’m thankful for the kindness and that Nicholas has a friend like E in his life. I’m grateful E has parents who taught her what it means to accept people who are different from her. E has given me hope for my son’s future.
She doesn’t try to change him. She likes him just the way he is. A true friendship is when someone knows everything about you but likes you anyway. That’s exactly how E is.”
**This post was written by Kate and originally appeared on her Facebook page, The Special Journey. See more from their journey here.