To have a ‘normal’ child who understands what you say, laugh when you play with them, look at you when you call out their name, talk at the age that he or she is supposed to, is a dream of every parent. No parents can imagine their life with a child that is born special and needs extra assistance. All they did is to cherish, support and protect their child.
The word ‘normal’ and ‘special’ are often being said to differentiate Individuals with a typical brain and Individuals that are in the spectrum or Special Needs that require extra help in certain skills.
But the question is, what is ‘normal’? How normal is normal? Am I normal? Are you normal?
I believe that ‘normal’ is too subjective, my ‘normal' may be different from your ‘normal’ and vice versa. Relatively, everything that is following the norm is considered normal and the opposites are out of norm. That is how it has been since 40 years ago when the Special Needs are being isolated in an institution because they can’t socialize well and behave differently. Unfortunately, it is hard for society to accept.
Only those with great support from their families and teachers can get away from the option to go to an institution. That’s how great people like Dr Temple Grandin who is a Professor of Animal Science, Albert Einstein a Theoretical Physicist and a lot more other big names that changed the world, are able to unleash their strength and contribute to the world despite their behavior that is out of norm.
It is time to move forward from labeling to a more inclusive world that embraces all abilities. Inclusive is not only bridging the gap between Typical and Special Needs children, it goes across religions, races, unique abilities and many more. It is a state where everyone feels included. It is a whole group effort with great support and understanding from all parties, families, schools, societies, government bodies, private companies, mass media etc. From talking about the things that they can’t do to displaying positive achievements, positive support from parents that boost them to excel in the things that they love, resulted in them to be independent in future. That should be the main goal.
For schools typically, Inclusive Education will help a lot in building up children's identity. Teaching children to appreciate one another despite their uniqueness will keep their mind open to make friends with anyone and help one another when their friends need help. Children in inclusive schools tend to be more sensitive with their surroundings, they are trustworthy, good in teamwork activities and easy to be friends with.
Some parents might not understand this concept as they will question “what if my typical child follows the ‘bad’ behavior of his friend that is special?”. This is an opportunity for the school to educate parents about inclusive education for them to understand more. The behavior that is seen as bad might be a way for children to regulate themselves. It can give a positive outcome for both typical and special children in the class. Of course, there will be an assessment to see the child’s level and group them in a class that can support them well.
We should all accept and adapt inclusive. Previously, the special needs are demanded to adapt to the norm despite typical people labeling them as special and ‘weak’ in certain skills without noticing their strength. It gives a hard time not only to them but their parents too -- To find a school that can accept their child, to go to places where people won’t judge them as bad parents, to answer questions from people as to “why does your child behave like this?” or “why can’t he talk yet?” or even, “why is he flapping? That’s not good” etc.
Moving forward we should all increase empathy, understand, and adapt inclusive. If you see situations like a child having a meltdown at the mall and the parents are having a hard time, try to help if you can. If you don’t know how to, walk away, and don’t stare at them, don’t give remarks, we are not in the 80’s or 90’s where the awareness was little. It is not an odd thing anymore.
Inclusive starts in you.
This article was written by Sharifah Nur ‘Addawiyah Syed Mohd Famy from Joyous Kiddy.