That’s not acceptance, that’s discrimination

By Laura Smith|April 27, 2017|Apraxia, Apraxia Awareness Day, apraxia blog, Childhood Apraxia of Speech, developmental coordination disorder, dyspraxia, global apraxia|

“That’s not acceptance, that’s discrimination.”

I watched a fellow apraxia mom say this today while she wiped tears from her eyes.  Why?  Well, she was looking at a beautiful newspaper article in the Valley Breeze that she bought special.  She knew it featured her seven year old son who threw out a first pitch along with two other children that day, and couldn’t wait to see his picture and read about it.

She knew he would be in it, because the paper made a big deal to take his picture, make his mom sign a photo release, and took down some information.  Her son has severe apraxia and dyspraxia, conditions that make it difficult for children to learn how to speak and how  to literally learn every single motor movement, causing significant developmental delays.  Her child has the same condition as MY child.  He has to work about 1000x harder than ANY other kid to learn how to do something others find so easily like talking, running, cutting….and he does through HOURS of therapy.  In many ways, he sacrifices a normal childhood because of all the therapy, so you can imagine how special being in a baseball little league feels to him, even if it is the “challenger league” for kids with disabilities.   Our kids don’t get a lot of “awards” “accolades” or even opportunities to feel good at something.  It’s heartbreaking. They struggle with everything.

So that’s why throwing out the first pitch alongside two other children was an incredible day and Kendra couldn’t wait to see his smiling face in the paper.

As she opened it up, her eyes first scanned the pictures.  Her smile and excitement quickly faded to confusion and disbelief.  Where was her son?  There were the two other kids.  The “typical” kids who threw the first pitch alongside him.  In fact, there was not just one but TWO pictures EACH of the children.  Maybe there was some mistake?  Maybe he was on another page? I can imagine her looking at the page before and the page after, yet, Talan was not anywhere to be found.  In fact, though the other little league team was pictured, NOT ONE CHILD from the challenger league was pictured, and THAT my friends is why Kendra came to say,

“This is not acceptance.  This is discrimination.”

How is this possible in 2017?  I mean seriously.  It’s not even special treatment to feature Talan.  All Kendra wanted was equal treatment.  Every child who threw a pitch was featured EXCEPT for Talan.  That is not an honest mistake.  This is blatant discrimination.

Every child, disability or not, is still a child.  They want to feel accepted.  They want to feel proud.  They want to feel included.  They want to have friends.  They feel happiness people and yes, they FEEL sadness too.  The message is clear.  He doesn’t matter as much as the typical kids.  He doesn’t have as much to offer. Despite taking his picture and his information, it wasn’t worthy of being featured.  Oh well, he doesn’t talk right?  He’ll never know.  Oh well, he can’t read, let’s feature the kids who can.  It’s not like Talan will know the difference right?

“This is not acceptance.  This is discrimination.”

I write this piece for Kendra, because sometimes it feels like no one cares.  Like our kids don’t matter, so we have to care about each other because if we don’t take care of each other, no one will.  It’s so hard to get people to care, and it’s easy to silence our kids because they didn’t have a voice to start with.

How screwed up is that?

“This is not acceptance.  This is discrimination.”

Letting him throw a first pitch, taking his picture, and writing down his information to NOT feature him alongside his typical peers is egregious.  Valley Breeze, you know what you really missed out on?  A chance to feature a beautiful piece on children of all challenges  playing and living harmoniously.   We aren’t asking for special treatment.  We are just asking to be included and have this world appreciate and include children and people of all walks of life.  This piece would have been the PERFECT opportunity to do so, but instead, the Valley Breeze chose exclusion and discrimination.

Shame on them.  So guess what.  I’ll do what the journalist at the Valley Breeze failed to do.  I’ll feature Talan and his teammates on the Challenger League in Cumberland Rhode Island.

The Challenger League sign is “Never Let the Fear of Striking out Keep you from Playing the Game.”

Way to go kids and let’s make it a great season!  We see you!  We love you!  We’re cheering for you! Go baseball!

 

 

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