March is Disability Awareness Month

This weekend, I participated in a spin-a-thon at my awesome gym, Team Fitness in Franklin, for Best Buddies, an organization that supports kids with developmental disabilities like MR and autism. One of the spin instructors rotating in one of the three hours watched kids with huge smiles passing out fruit and granola bars, giving us Best Buddies rubber bracelets, and handing out water. Glancing at the jam packed room, he said, "I've been spinning a long time. THIS is my dream. A full room with smiling faces, and plates of food being passed around... are those cookies??"

My kids, 10 and 6, know a handful of children with various types of physical and emotional disabilities, and from the moment they met them, we explain factually and briefly how that child is different so there are no surprises or questions, and remind them that every kid is different in their own way. Keep it simple... its surprising how kids will say, "Whatever, let's play!" and try hard to communicate questions afterward to clarify how they can play best with them next time. My friend's son has Asperger's and has a hard time communicating how he feels and reading emotions, and also doesn't understand puns... makes it tough for my ten year old to tell punny jokes. As long as he knows how that child communicates, he's amazingly cool about adapting his play style to the child's abilities. He'd think something like, "Cool, no Amelia Bedelia type jokes today, but he likes to play video games and he kicks butt at the Wii!" I hope that I've taught my children very kid - whether diagnosed with a disability or not - is unique. Adapt, smile and keep laughing and having fun!

March is Disability Awareness Month, and CVS Caremark is another company that is stepping up to the plate to help. Click this link and check out their amazing "All Kids Can" program and find out how you can help kids with disabilities too... but I'm warning you, there may not be plates of cookies or fruit for ya.

A big shout out to my friend Karen S., who was was the first kid (back in the early 1960s) to receive a heart transplant here in Massachusetts and has some disabilities as a result, but she is a "yes I can" kinda woman and a great early childhood ed. teacher. She's my own best buddy... over (gulp) 22 years now! {HUGS}

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