The Sad facts about Children Playing together
On the surface
Questioning whether you would allow your children to play with those who are mentally handicap is a no-brainer. Sure you would. Don't mentally handicapped or disabled children stand equal to those without such burdens? If my memory serves me, as a child the answer is yes and at the same time a resounding no.
When one initially addresses mixing disabled children with children who function in society one forgets that some conditions or disabilities make the child who has the condition a little fuzzy on where the child’s own physical limits are. It often happens that disabled children are easily frustrated by things that other children won't initially understand unless the “normal” have prior experience with the condition being worked around. On the other side of the coin, most non disabled children are insensitive and indifferent to the feelings of their fellows. As often happens on the play ground, if there is a child that can’t play the game at hand they find themselves left out or derided for not fitting in.
These conditions and realities of child sociology make mixing the two groups in general something to seriously think about. Specifically parents need to consider the conditions the parents are willing to handle when it comes with mixing those with handicaps and those without. Granted, when I was a child I really wanted a play mate. Every now and again I would find one. Initially I had a couple of cousins who were close to my age who didn't mind playing with me but I have the same to admit that my record isn't flawless.
The point is, some conditions have special requirements. Children with Downs Syndrome, MS, Autism, and Asperger’s Syndrome amongst others have different social restrictions or peculiarities that need to be addressed. For instance, a child with downs needs someone to be willing to explain the rules and work them through the process a few times so that they understand what is going on. A child with MS needs those who play with him or her to be gentle and understanding if their physical limits keep them from being able to keep up when the games get strenuous. Autistic and Asperger’s Syndrome children really need everyone to play quietly and peacefully so that they are able to assimilate each thing that happens as it happens or they loose it and can end up misbehaving in frustration and over stimulation with disastrous results.
In my past, due to my symptoms having grown up with Asperger’s Syndrome I often found that children pushed me to my breaking point and beyond. Let’s face it; children are cruel and insensitive in general. Most children don’t understand, when in groups, how to reach out and alter things for someone who is different. When such considerations aren’t made, mistakes happen. One time I kicked my cousin, while rough housing hard enough that he had to stay in bed for three days. It happened innocently enough but I am still a little ashamed of it. I also was known to have a hair trigger temper that most of my family walked on egg shells to avoid. There were more then a few times when situations got out of control and my anger would boil over and I found that there were few physical limits that I wouldn’t test to make things slow down and stop.
Over time I have learned to cope. I don't lose my temper very often at all and it has been a while since I have endangered anyone's life. I knew of other children with both similar and different conditions who didn't seem to care who they hurt. Disabled children often have parents who indulged them more out of a sense of guilt and helplessness then anything else. Therefore, these children act with little remorse and much selfishness most of the time.
This being said, not all situations are equal. Mixing disabled children with those without serious problems can work but it wouldn't be a good idea to turn your back on the situation. Keep an eye on the children and be prepared to intercede on both sides of the issues that may come up. If either child isn't willing to make the adjustments necessary to make the situation work, it may be necessary to separate the children after all.
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