This Mom Of Special Needs Children Wrote A Heartfelt Letter Inspiring Parents To Teach Kids About Our Differences

"Take a moment and share all kinds of different."

We may look different on the outside — with different abilities, backgrounds, families, cultures, religions etc — but, on the inside, we are all mostly the same, and that's what matters most. 

This is a lesson many of us have grown up with, but sometimes kids don't hear it often enough, or the lesson comes a little too late. When others put emphasis on our outward appearances, it can result in painful interactions for children such as 9-year-old Joel Gagnon, who is missing one ear and some bone structure due to a cranio-facial impairment. 


In a heartfelt Facebook post, Joel's mom, Stacey Jackson Gagnon, recounted one such painful experience when they attended a new church. When she took Joel to the kids' area, the children stopped and stared at him, making the young boy upset and run out of the room.

Gagnon explains she has six children, four of which have special needs, and she often uses these situations to educate kids about differences. However, this time she wasn't able to because she was busy comforting her crying son. In order to prevent the situation from happening again, Gagnon wrote a Facebook post encouraging all parents to take some time to teach kids about differences.

She explains that she does not think the kids who pointed and gawked at Joel were mean, but the issue was that they had never been taught about how everyone is different. Therefore, she hopes parents take some time to acknowledge everyone's uniqueness.

"Show them pictures of people that look different," she writes. "And then explain that it is not OK to stare at someone that looks different, it's not OK to point. Teach them that my boy is the same on the inside as your child is."

She goes on to explain all the everyday kid things her son loves, such as Dodge Ram trucks, Minecraft, digging in the dirt and ketchup. But what he doesn't like, she says, is people stopping to stare and point at him.

She concludes, "Show them pictures of people with different colored skin, different eyes, different abilities to talk, walkers to walk, wheelchairs to roll. Show them children with no hair, without an ear, without an arm. Take a moment and share all kinds of different. Now teach your child that a beautiful person is found with the heart; not the eyes."

Acknowledging differences is so important considering 56.7 million Americans are differently-abled. Whether these people learn in different ways, look different, or have different feelings than you, it's important to know everyone is still the same on the inside, and deserve to be treated respectfully. 

(H/T: HuffPost)


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