Will, a special needs boy who walks to Beca’s Brew, a coffee stand in Bothell, every day, helps with the coffee shop, and waves at everyone who drives by. Most ignore him and drive away. Beca would give the rude customers free drinks and told them never to come back. All Will was doing was just trying to be kind to others, but people brought him down.
Special needs kids are just like us, they are human. Today I am talking to you about how special needs people get treated poorly. The reason why this is such a big problem is it will effect them in terrible ways. Mistreatment is a leading cause of depression and anxiety. They have feelings just like we do. According to Special Needs Alliance, in more recent times, special needs people were routinely institutionalized, denied education and subject to discrimination in employment, housing, transportation and many other aspects of daily life.
But we have tools that can help us work on this issue. Since then things have gotten better. The Architectural Barriers Act, passed in 1968, required that all federal buildings be accessible to individuals with physical disabilities. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 then prohibited discrimination against individuals with disability by any federal program. The Education for All Handicapped Children Act provided funding for all states for “free and appropriate” education to children with special needs.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. We have all heard this before. Avoid assumptions. Don’t assume that special need kids are bad or can’t do anything on their own. They can surprise you. Don’t fear their disability, just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s scary. We are all different in some way. Treat their disability and its symptoms as natural. Kids and teens with special needs may be insecure about their disability. Talk about it calmly and casually, and accommodate it without making a fuss. This sends the message that you care, and their needs are not a burden.
When I treat others with kindness, I feel like I made a difference in the world. It may have been a small thing, but it makes a big difference.