It’s April, which means that this is Autism Awareness Month! Anyone who knows me is well aware of how important the cause is to me as a future special education teacher (and just as a person in general.) Instead of writing another article specifically focused on autism like I did last year, I wanted to take a minute to talk about some disturbing trends I’ve noticed in my time in the classroom.
See, my favorite topic to discuss with my students is kindness. In this day and age, I think it is of the utmost importance that the next generation is being prepared now to grow into adults who are going to make our world a better place. It is scary who we have allowed ourselves to become as people, and it is rubbing off on our children.
Here’s the bottom line, my friends: I can preach kindness to my students until I’m blue in the face (and I will continue to,) but it will not make a bit of difference if the adults in their lives don’t practice kindness themselves.
Why am I connecting this to my usual Autism Awareness Month article? Let me give you a scenario. During my time in student teaching, I have served my fair share of recess duties. Over the past few weeks (as I moved to a new room for recess,) I have been horrified by what I witness. These kids congregate in little cliques, and anyone who doesn’t typically belong in one of those little factions gets ostracized. That in and of itself is bad enough, but it gets worse. When a lone child approaches one of these groups, the other kids in the groups look at that child like he has two heads. Then, once they have successfully turned the child away, they scream and laugh and taunt him behind his back.
elementary schools. That just rocks me to my core, as it should anyone! Every child deserves to come to school and feel like an accepted part of a community. How can we make sure that we are demonstrating this concept to our children-- the most basic concept of treating everyone with kindness? We must make sure that their adult role models are treating everyone, everywhere with kindness!
How is a child supposed to learn to be kind when the adults around them are acting the way they are? We don’t hold the door for the person behind us. We don’t smile and say hello when we catch someone’s eye in passing. We don’t stop and give even a dollar to a homeless person on the street.And, my pet peeve (as you might have gathered by now,) we don’t treat individuals with any sort of difference as any human being would like to be treated. We are so consumed with the “me, me, me” mentality that we are actually making ourselves (and everyone around us) miserable!
be better than what they see.It is the responsibility of all of the adults in a child’s life-- and I venture to say that everyone reading this can think of at least one child in their lives-- to model treating the world around them with kindness and respect.
If you’re at a total loss for how you can start to show more kindness in your own life, here are some ideas to get you going:
- Say hello to the stranger next to you in line at the store.
- Offer help to someone who is exhibiting obvious need (can’t reach something on a high shelf, seems to have lost something, etc.)
- HOLD THE DOOR FOR THE PERSON BEHIND YOU WHEN ENTERING/EXITING A BUILDING.
- Donate money to an animal shelter tabling at the mall/pet store.
- Flash a smile (please, for the love of all that is good.)
- Move down a few seats to make room for someone in need of a spot at church/the movies/etc.
- Drop some spare change in the cup when a person demonstrating obvious need is begging.
I believe in you, my friends. Have courage, and be kind. Our world quite literally depends on it.