So I’m all about inclusion and one of the things that breaks my heart most is that Aidan doesn’t have real friends. Yes, he has plenty of kids in school who are good to him and talk to him and even work with him….but that’s not the same as being a friend. While I do believe that Aidan offers an important educational opportunity to learn that “different” is not “bad” and that kids need to learn to be kind even to kids they don’t like, I don’t think everyone needs to be friends with Aidan.
A mom friend of mine recently said she overheard her young child telling another child not to like Aidan. The thing that’s so remarkable about that situation is that it’s so typical, and I’m used to dealing with the atypical. Kids are fickle and base their friendship decisions on who knows what and they may change from day to day.
This mom had the appropriate conversation about how Aidan’s muscles don’t work well but he probably understands what you’re saying and he loves feet and he loves to drive and he loves to giggle. The mom wasn’t exactly sure where her child’s hesitation came from and may have had nothing to do with Aidan’s disability.
Aidan may have driven his wheelchair too close to her feet; he may have been talking over her; he may have touched her with his drooly hands. Sure, all of these things could be explained to her and yes she can be encouraged to engage with Aidan. Her mom and I will do what we can to make it a more positive experience for both of them, but at the end of the day, this girl can choose who she wants to be friends with.
I was surprised to find that I was really ok with this situation. I know I can have a one track mind when it comes to having Aidan be part of the action, but really, other kids are allowed to make choices and be comfortable too. Such a simple truth but one that, as a pusher of all things Aidan, perhaps I lose sight of.