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|14 comments

“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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14 Comments

  1. made me cry…thank you… we will keep fighting for the happiness of our children.

  2. Tears as well. They really did a disservice to the community. Could of been a great learning tool . As a mom of 3 with differences I know how frustrating it is.

  3. I say boycott the breeze for doing something like that. Like the writer pointed out that was done intentionally

  4. Shocked and saddened. I also hungrily hunted for photos of my son in the newspaper when he was young – to not have seen his big, toothy grin would have filled me with grief, despair, and anger. Shame on you, Valley Breeze. You owe this family a public apology!

  5. I hope you also submit this as a letter to the editor of the paper.

  6. I did and her response was terrible. Very, very disappointing indeed.

  7. The mom in question got her facts wrong. No one guaranteed, promised, or even suggested that a particular picture would run in the paper. That is NEVER DONE. EVER. News photographers take dozens, or even hundreds of photos at an event. They collect the same information from dozens of little league kids. Only 2 or 3 pictures are selected and printed, but again, NO guarantees are ever made at the event, This newspaper previously ran a feature story exclusively about this same child. Were they biased against him then? Ms. Smith, I’m sure your outrage is genuine, and your intentions are honorable. But you don’t have the facts. Don’t take my word for it. Check with the officials of the little league. Ask the mom about the feature story this paper ran earlier. Then you might want to correct the assumptions you made. They are based on the imaginings of an over-emotional little league parent. Real journalists CHECK FACTS.

  8. I say search for the truth. The mother either imagined her twisted version of the “facts”, or she intentionally lied.
    Learn how newspapers really work (A brief explanation is available below). And stop automatically believing everything you read on the net.
    You believed a little league parent who twisted facts to suit her own narcissistic view.

  9. The mother should apologize to the publisher, editor, and staff of the Valley Breeze. No promises were made, so no promises were broken.
    The “guarantee” that here child’s photo would be published only existed in her twisted imagination.
    Before you demand an apology, demand the FACTS!

  10. Hello A Observer. I don’t claim to be a journalist, but I am actually “the mom in question’s” friend. I happen to know that the paper did attempt to make up for this blunder, not by way of an apology, but running the feature a week AFTER, not before as you assert.
    I do understand photographers take hundreds of pictures and cannot run every one. Of course that makes sense, but what Kendra was pointing out was that intentionally or not, the entire challenger league (not just Talan) was left out of the feature. No one is accusing the Valley Breeze of intentionally being discriminatory. I can relate a similar situation for comparison. I am the Denver walk coordinator for Childhood Apraxia of Speech. There are hundreds of pictures taken the day of the event and they are posted on various pages. It was pointed out to me that no children of color were represented in any of the pictures. I could have responded with immediate defensiveness (as did the Valley Breeze), but instead I realized they were right, and though the omission was not intentional, I promised that this year I would personally ensure that the pictures are representative of every child. The Valley Breeze’s knee jerk response was basically “screw you. We didn’t mean to leave anyone out, so therefore we’re right and you all are a bunch of bullies.” Sorry, doesn’t work that way. What happened to when you know better you do better?

  11. Please see my comment below. No one is accusing the Valley Breeze of intentionally being discriminatory. This mom was pointing out that NO child from the Challenger League was featured. Instead of getting defensive, the editor could have simply said, wow you’re right and I’m so sorry. Instead Kendra was met with hostility and venom.

  12. The initial feature story I referred to appeared in a previous issue. I wasn’t referring to this week’s paper. That was an attempt at appeasement (Unwarranted, in my opinion). She started this nonsense with a venomous and inaccurate attack long AFTER they publicized her son and her cause.
    Ask your friend if the Valley Breeze featured her son in the past. Ask her if she stands by her recent statement, or if she already apologized to the publisher. Let’s see if she admits to being confused about the situation (Forgivable), or if she continues to spread misinformation (Unforgivable).
    By the way, the editor in question has recently been recognized by her peers for her exceptional career as a journalist. She was inducted into the New England Newspaper and Press Association Hall of Fame. Read the publisher’s column. He mentions your friend.

    “That’s the problem with facts. Once they get out, you can’t control the little buggers!” — Lyndon Johnson

  13. Hello A Responder. It’s easy to hide behind a computer isnt it? I am the mom you are trying to out and publicly slander. I am the mom who posted a video about how The Valley Breeze left out ONE out of only 3 children who threw out the first pitch on Opening Day for our local Little League who also happened to be the only one out of those 3 children, who was from the Challenger team for children with disabilities. My point was NOT about leaving my child out. You have made it about this since day one and you are so far removed from the point that it makes my head spin. MY POINT was that The Valley Breeze left out the entire Challenger team! Who does that??!! How does that even happen? And please don’t give me the excuse that it was not intentional. As a journalist, you should know better! Don’t you dare come on here and call me a liar and whatever else makes your ego feel better. Also, yes, The Valley Breeze did a wonderful story about my son and the Apraxia walk I coordinate every year here in RI. That was a year ago. I’m not talking about what was written a year ago. I’m talking about a story written ONE week ago that left out a little boy with special needs and the entire team with children who have disabilities. Furthermore, you make reference to the officials of the Little League team supporting your position. How about you try talking to the officials of the Challenger team kids and the parents because every single one I have spoken with has said these kids are constantly “left out” every year. You want facts? Here are the facts: The Valley Breeze left out an entire team of children with disabilities. That was a BIG mistake and this mom spoke out and you don’t like it. It brought negative attention to your newspaper and based by the disgraceful and offensive remarks on this blog as well as in emails sent to me, you CAN’T handle it! None of this is “imaginary” as you claim it is. Nor am I an “over emotional Little League parent”. I am a mom who is extremely passionate about advocating for her son and children with special needs and I am damn good at it!

  14. Last note: I am not a journalist. If I were, I wouldn’t waste time on this blog (That’s why I won’t be back, so you can respond and get the last word).
    The Breeze doesn’t need this blog. The publisher mentioned you in his column, and printed about 50,000 copies. You read it didn’t you? Or are you boycotting a free newspaper?
    You folks don’t need me. Talk among yourselves.

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