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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I hope you don't mind me posting this here. My children aren't special needs, but, for a bunch of reasons (which I'd be happy to share if asked), I'd prefer to enroll them in integrated/inclusive activities. I've found a few in our area, and I'm hoping to get started with one soon.<br><br>
My question is: The listings say, "all abilities welcome," but is that really true? Will the other mothers find our presence annoying or weird, maybe even see me as an invader?<br><br>
Excuse me if these questions are ridiculous or offensive in themselves, but I really have no idea. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"> I'm a bit of a social oddball myself (e.g., I score very high on those AS quizzes, as mentioned in a recent thread on that subject) and have never got on with most group activities. I tend to do better with those who are "different" in various ways; for instance, in my teens, I volunteered to work one-on-one with S/N children in a regular day camp, and really enjoyed it. So I think things will be fine where the children are concerned. But as for their moms... that's a new one on me.<br><br>
I'm not primarily concerned with making new friends (though that would be nice) -- just hoping that this isn't going to be a really awkward experience that makes me want to go home and hide under the bed. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/bag.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Bag">:
 

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I don't limit who my SN child plays with. So I don't find it weird at all. My Ds is in a regular classroom (with access to special needs classrooms and support) and like that he plays with kids of all abilities in his different classrooms.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MaryCeleste</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8228723"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I hope you don't mind me posting this here. My children aren't special needs, but, for a bunch of reasons (which I'd be happy to share if asked),</div>
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Ok, I am asking..<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/innocent.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shy"><br>
We homeschool but I just found this interesting.
 

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I volunteered at a special needs school for a while that allowed kids without special needs to come as well and be in an integrated classroom. It seemed to be a great thing for all of the children involved. I think talking to some of the mothers in the playgroup would be great. From my experience, it is a good idea! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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Although I haven't been a part of it, there's a center near us that's for everyone. Non-SN children are definitely welcome for a variety of reasons--people believing that the integration in a supportive environment can be good for all the kids, a desire to have their kids in an environment that will prepare them for an integrated school classroom if that's where they are headed, the presence of non-SN siblings, etc. If it's a group connected with early intervention, at least where I am it might include kids who began life as preemies or have other risk factors for some SN's and are being monitored to see if certain issues develop.<br><br>
We participated in a group like this at our local Y. We actually weren't going as one of the SN kids enrolled in EI, though my has gradually been accumulating dx's since then. Actually, I found some conversations with the group facilitator very helpful.<br><br>
It's possible that, in making conversation, another parent might ask if your child has special needs (it's not always obvious) and why you decided to come. You might want to think of how you would answer that. Also, be patient in developing friendships--in the group I was in some Mom's had known each other since their kids were in NICU at the same time--or at least they'd run into each other many times and many settings. So sometimes it can take time to feel part of the group or find people whose conversations you can enter into. After a month and a half or so it will feel very different, but people may or may not make much conversation with you until they've seen you around for awhile or your children have had an extended play experience with each other.<br><br>
Sherri
 

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My nephew with Asperger's lived with me for quite a while, and we went througha few play groups.<br><br>
The first was coordinated by a local kid-friendly organization (I'm being general b/c I'm hoping our experience was exceptional). They said kids of types and abilities welcome. The only limit was on age. It was not a good experience. The facilitator just plain didn't like my nephew. I admit, he's a handful sometimes. He talks LOUDLY all the time (this drives me crazy as I'm quiet), this loud talk is usually nonsensical stuff to himself, and he just didn't care too much about the other kids' feelings, etc. It could have gone better, but the facilitator responded by being very harsh with him. I talked to her about it after the first play date, explained his situation, and that he actually will behave better if one isn't openly dismissive and hostile to him (I was much more diplomatic than this). The second date was not better, so we stopped.<br><br>
I then found another group as he really needs peer socializaiton. There wasn't a facilitator at this group; it was just a local group of mothers. Again we had problems. One boy kept telling my nephew to "shut up" and saying "you're a weirdo" to him. I talked to this kid's mom, and she basically, in coded, well-educated grown-up speak said that she thought her kids was right and that there was nothing wrong with her son being honest. Scratch that group.<br><br>
Finally, we got together with some kids a few years younger than my nephew. This went ok b/c the moms were more understanding and the kids had less social expectiations on my nephew.<br><br>
But the struggle continues. He now lives his with father. We recently found out he is known as "the annoying kid" at school, no one will eat lunch with him, no one wants him on the team at gym, he is ignored in most after school activities. He is starting to say "all the kids hate my guts". It doesn't entirely bother him, but I think he gets lonely. We've found one after school club - tennis - that seems to be going well for him b/c he is ok at the sport and there's not a lot of social interaction.<br><br>
But my heart breaks: "the annoying kid". His dad, my parents, and I recently met with his teachers, and they aren't completely alarmed by it. But I am so very sad for him.<br><br>
Sorry I went way off topic and presented such a gloomy picture. I should probably delete this, but it has been weighing on my heart for a while. It just makes me <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"><br><br>
To the OP: I hope you have a better experience. I wonder if our experience was unusually bad.
 

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I am usually a little tense around parents of NT kids initially because I am protective of ds. It is hard enough dealing with totally innocent, but socially innapropriate statements that kids make (like a declaration of "I did it faster so I am smarter!" by an enthusiastic preschooler who means no harm), but as long as the parents are willing to step in and help give some guidence to their kids when they start getting hurtful, I am able to relax.<br><br>
Unfortunatly, I run into a lot more parents who think it is perfectly acceptable for their kid to call mine weird or stupid because "he doesn't understand anyway". He certainly DOES understand. He also understands when you talk about him or try and pity me.<br><br>
I am really appreciative when a parent makes an effort, even if it is ackward, to encourage the kids to play together. I am always on the lookout for parents and kids who I can arrange playdates with because my son needs as much practice as he can get.<br><br>
As the mom of a seemingly NT daughter, I anticipate she will be put into playgroups as the typically developing peer model at least some of the time because she is going to naturally develop skills to understand when the playmates don't interact quite how other typical kids do. I anticipate that I will be on both sides of that situation in my lifetime.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MaryCeleste</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8228723"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">My question is: The listings say, "all abilities welcome," but is that really true? Will the other mothers find our presence annoying or weird, maybe even see me as an invader?<br></div>
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I guess it depends on the program but most people I know who are running integrated playgroups are always looking for NT kids to join. Pamela Wolfburg's IPG model <a href="http://www.wolfberg.com/" target="_blank">http://www.wolfberg.com/</a> actually has more NT kids (expert players) than SN kids (novice players) in the playgroups. I would think you would be welcomed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>jaye</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8233283"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I guess it depends on the program but most people I know who are running integrated playgroups are always looking for NT kids to join. Pamela Wolfburg's IPG model <a href="http://www.wolfberg.com/actually" target="_blank">http://www.wolfberg.com/actually</a> has more NT kids (expert players) than SN kids (novice players) in the playgroups. I would think you would be welcomed.</div>
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Thanks for the link. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
Doriansmummy, here are some reasons off the top of my head:<br><br>
- The obvious, "advertised" one: to give them experience around children with a variety of physical and behavioral differences, so these things aren't foreign/scary to them. This is probably what I'd say if asked at the group, and it's true. I don't think storybooks, however well-intentioned, are an adequate substitute for personal interaction.<br><br>
When I was a child, our teachers used to make a big deal out of gathering us all together in the school library and reading some story about a child with a disability. (I grew up in Canada, so the stories were usually by <a href="http://www.jeanlittle.com/" target="_blank">Jean Little</a>.) To be honest, it seemed really preachy, and didn't make my friends and me any more comfortable with the idea of actually <i>meeting</i> someone with said condition. Personally, although I never would have admitted it to anyone, I was scared of wheelchairs and leg braces, as well as blind and deaf people. It wasn't until my 20's, when I spent time with colleagues with various disabilities in the workplace, that I fully got over this.<br><br>
(For whatever reason, autism never bothered me. I thought it was very interesting, and even went through a stage at around 9 years old where I wanted to work with autistic children when I grew up. I remember trying to teach myself sign language, b/c I knew that was a requirement.)<br><br>
- This might sound pretty shallow, but I tend to get bored in regular playgroups. I figure that this wouldn't be the same old thing, and would give me plenty to think about, even if I couldn't find anyone to talk to.<br><br>
- DD has perfectionistic tendencies, and can be hard on herself when she doesn't live up to her own standards. This runs in our family, to some extent. DH and I have been making an effort to model accepting behavior... e.g., that all of us have challenges to overcome, that we should be patient with ourselves and others, and that each person's intrinsic value is the same no matter what. I'm thinking that some real-life experience with a diverse group of children, some of whom might struggle with some things that are pretty basic to her, could help to give her a better perspective. She's very socially aware for her age, and spends a lot of time thinking and talking about why people do the things they do. (I'm glad that she usually asks me, rather than them. Although I'm trying to encourage her to ask a little more quietly!)<br><br>
On a related note, I'd appreciate any suggestions from mothers of s/n children regarding how to answer DD's "Why does that boy/girl [insert difference here]?" questions. I usually say something like, "His body is made that way," or "She's just learning to do that a little later than you did." Sometimes I'll add something about how we're all a little different from each other, or that God made us all and loves us the way we are, or that it's good that we can help each other... but I don't want to belabor these points. Probably a subconscious reaction against all those dreaded library assemblies. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"><br><br>
I did find these pages:<br><br><a href="http://www.illinoisearlylearning.org/tipsheets/accept-disabilities.htm" target="_blank">http://www.illinoisearlylearning.org...sabilities.htm</a><br><a href="http://www.aboutourkids.org/aboutour/articles/friendship_specialneeds.html" target="_blank">http://www.aboutourkids.org/aboutour...cialneeds.html</a><br><br>
but there aren't a lot of concrete examples that would apply to a 3-year-old. I hope this means that it's pretty simple at that age.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MaryCeleste</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8235816"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">On a related note, I'd appreciate any suggestions from mothers of s/n children regarding how to answer DD's "Why does that boy/girl [insert difference here]?" questions.</div>
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What works for us is to remind my children that the child they are talking about is aware of themselves and not to talk about it excessively. My youngest for example has 2 thumbs and 4 fingers that are very short in addition to being non-verbal. It gets mighty tiring to hear from every pre-schooler "What's wrong with his hands?" or "Why can't he talk?"over and over and over.<br><br>
Fat people know they are fat. You don't have to point it out. KWIM?<br><br>
Otherwise it's okay for children to ask because they ask wanting to honestly know about differences. I haven't been offended yet when a child asks me about my son.<br><br>
Sincerely,<br>
Debra, homeschooling mom of 4 ages 10 (AS), 9, 7, and 4 (Apraxia, Dysarthria, HFA?)
 

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<b>....where would one look for listings of integrated playgroups??? I'm in an urban area, and would love to find playgroup options for my two SN sons.</b><br><br>
...and to the OP.... I love it when typical kids play with my kids. Often it's the only way my kids DO play with other kids, since my kids are extremely cognitively delayed AND have autistic behaviors....they don't really understand or want to initiate games. Typical kids, though, seem to adapt to my kids, and involve them in really sweet ways. I would love to see typical kids, and understanding/open parents like you at ANY playgroup I found. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks, RedOakMomma. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
In my case, I found one listing in a community center program guide, one on the web site of a recreation center that has a lot of adaptive services, and one by searching Google for "integrated playgroup" + the name of my city. Since they're called by different names in different places, I'm guessing that a more effective method would be to search for lists of special needs playgroups in your area, and look through the results to see which ones are open to typically developing children.<br><br>
Coming at it from another angle, there are also quite a few run-of-the-mill community center playgroups that advertise themselves as "all abilities." Most of them seem to have few or no s/n children attending, but maybe you'd be okay with that.<br><br>
Anyway, I hope you find a group that's fun for your guys. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/twins.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="twins">:
 
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