A year ago, our friend Kim (Lily's Mom) wrote what I thought was a very poignant piece about "The Short Bus" and teaching our (typical) children to accept that other children may appear different on the outside. Here is a short bit of that piece she wrote on June 15, 2005:
Since Lily got her wheelchair we have heard many comments and some are ok and some not so ok. Here are some examples of not ok. One little boy went right up to Lily, looked her over and then pointed and laughed. I shot his mother a look and she didn't seem embarrassed at all. A little girl at the mall just stared at Lily and finally yells "why is she in a chair?" Her mom said nothing, just ignored her daughter.
An example of ok behavior is at the Dr.'s office a little boy says "look mom she is in a chair" and his mom said "yes and you can be her friend." I almost cried with that comment. Kids are going to stare, point and ask why Lily is in a wheelchair and they should. Kids are filled with curiosity and they have honestly spewing out constantly. Our job as parents is to educate our children and show them that it is ok that there are kids in wheelchairs and kids that walk differently and talk differently.
These kids need to know that they don't have to be afraid or make fun just because they are different. I know this is all easier said than done but I am asking you parents to take that extra step to educate your kids, don't quickly shhh them and change the subject. Tell them that God made kids like Lily differently and she is still a kid just like you.
So when Jack pointed to this boy and stated matter of factly that his eyes were closed, I replied, "Yes, he is blind and he cannot see. And that is O.K., you can be his friend!" To which Jack looked up at me and simply smiled.