By COURTNEY DAWSON
I am the mother of a fantastic eight-year-old boy who is severely disabled. He has Autism, developmental delay, Cortical Vision Impairment, hearing loss and he is still learning to walk. He has no communication, he cannot feed himself and is still in nappies.
Last week I read the story about Miles Ambridge’s class photo (Mile Ambridge was a little boy in the US who was excluded from him class photo because was in a wheelchair) and it reduced me to tears.
I read it while watching Masterchef with my child’s Behaviour Support Worker (we are on a huge and exhausting eight-week journey to get kiddo to sleep in his bed all night) and I felt the tears burn in my eyes.
When I was alone, I cried. I am still crying. Not because of the outrage or blame or any of that, but because this story about a child with a disability was such real talk, real life – this is happening.
I felt really stupid that my son’s school photos came home on Friday and I was mad that he wasn’t wearing his adorable sweater in them. He was sitting in a row with his fellow special needs classmates, being adorable (as they all were, good looking little dudes!) and it never even occurred to me that he wouldn’t be included, ever. Owen attends an incredible special needs school in our area and I have never seen anyone excluded in a school photo. Or in any school activity.
Not every child with a disability has access to a special needs school, nor may their parents want to place their child there, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. At his school, the only way he is different is in his personality, likes and dislikes – just like any kid at any school – because all kids are different.