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The Sad facts about Children Playing together

Updated on March 21, 2012

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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    • Sterling Sage profile image

      Sterling Sage 7 years ago from California

      Wow, great hub.

      I was a somewhat awkward kid and was bullied a lot. Like you, I was sometimes punished along with my tormentors because, according to the adults in charge, "it doesn't matter who started it." The fact is, it DOES matter who started it, and it matters why. Whenever children interact with others who might tend to be bullied, it's important that responsible adults monitor the situation carefully.

      Punishing every child involved in a behavioral incident the same way is not good enough; it's the adult's responsibility to KNOW who started it and respond accordingly. When lazy, cookie-cutter disciplinary approaches are employed, the most vulnerable children can be tortured with impunity. As you've said, children can be viscious. The bitterness that some bullied kids develop as a result can be intense and self-reinforcing, leading to more behavior problems and a lifetime of misery down the road.

    • Jaggedfrost profile image

      Jaggedfrost 7 years ago

      I am glad to hear that. It is a nice attitude to have and I am glad you resonated with this article. Thanks for stopping by.

    • twolittlehands profile image

      twolittlehands 7 years ago from Utah

      Thank you for sharing these insights which, I believe should be seriously considered by public school officials. If children are asked to mingle with those of differing abilities and temperaments, a good deal of preparation and trained, close supervision should be provided to head off problems before they escalate. Understanding and tolerance should be taught. Equity should be enjoined. Individuality should be respected, within set bounds.

      After school, parents should provide all of the above. That is the way my family did with my little sister who has Down's syndrome. She grew up learning good manners and self control. She did, however, come with an uncanny sense of understanding, compassion and grace which nobody had to teach her. I love my little sister.

      I love and respect all people who struggle to overcome difficulties not of their own choosing.

    • Jaggedfrost profile image

      Jaggedfrost 7 years ago

      islands are small places. Causing problems on an island doesn't give either party anywhere specifically to run. There is enough space on this continent that chasing someone away comes with the expectation that the person being chased run far enough away to not be dealt with.

      Thank you again for your continued readership. It is nice to hear from a kindred spirit.

    • Sa`ge profile image

      Sa`ge 7 years ago from Barefoot Island

      I never understood bashing of beliefs until I left the islands as an adult. I never understood it. Here in the islands when I grew up we all respected each others religion even went to each other churches. anyways.

      O really enjoyed this hub and found it to be refreshing and very correct. You bring first hand information here for us all to read. As a sickly child I was always in the side lines looking in, teased and bullied so yes, disabled children and it matters not what the disability is, do have it difficult as children. maybe that is the reason we end up cultivating the mind. thank you :D hugs :D

    • Jaggedfrost profile image

      Jaggedfrost 7 years ago

      Well I grew up in a small farming town where those who claimed to practice my faith weren't always very strict in adhering to cannon and the local ministers didn't like the idea of our faith growing in the area. It wasn't the catholics that caused the most damage and harassment, in fact I was on relatively good terms with most of the catholics in the area. Mostly it was the Evangelicals and other "feel good" Christians who labeled "Mormons" as the worst form of heathen and possibly even Devil worshiping practitioners. Almost as soon as anyone knew my religious leanings, my "Christian" peers spent much time trying to bash and belittle my beliefs.

    • profile image

      Drew 7 years ago

      No problem. I like your site and enjoy reading your posts. Just out of curiosity, what Christians inspired hatred of people like you?

      I was and am a practicing Christian, but my two best friends in early childhood were Muslim, and in later years my closest friend was Jewish. I grew up around an uncle with CP, so having respect for people of other faiths and for those with disabilities was normal for me, though not for many other children I grew up around, who were typically not exposed to either until at least adolescence. Anyway, just curious.

    • Jaggedfrost profile image

      Jaggedfrost 7 years ago

      I cant say that I was so lucky but then I had something else against me in the eyes of my peers. I was and am a member of a religion that was held in some derision by those Christians who inspired their children to hate people like me on sight. I also, never had qualms about returning violence for violence although that took some time to develop as I had a Principal at the time that was in the "punish everyone who causes trouble or gets involved the same" mode. The injustice and inescapably of this policy fueled a frustration that built until I was a bit of a monster by high school. The problems I am detailing actually end up being problems that happen outside of school, however. Usually the children that need to be observed in the presence of more functional children are those with little sense of choice. They are not the sort that one would hear from here on Hubpages though not always. Most of the conditions that lead to more dangerous social problems such as Schizophrenia don't happen until early adulthood. I appreciate your sharing your story. I can feel for your awkwardness as a child and wish that I had such defenders early on.

    • profile image

      Drew 7 years ago

      Very thoughtful post...thanks for sharing. A "hair-trigger temper", as you put it, is something I continue to struggle with, too. On the other hand, I was typically too afraid of other children (and adults) to confront them. My father actually had to give me permission to fight someone if they put their hands on my neck. The temper as such didn't develop until later, but the social awkwardness and anxiety was always there. I was rarely bullied because I had big friends, and people knew I would resort to "unconventional methods" if I felt like I was outmatched.

    • Jaggedfrost profile image

      Jaggedfrost 7 years ago

      Yes I don't think the struggles and problems that come with mental illness and certain disorders ever go away but there is something to the caution one must observe in those too young to be wise in their management of who their conditions effect them. Your very welcome. If you care to share your struggles here I think it would add something to this humble observation above.

    • Sky321 profile image

      Sky321 7 years ago from Canada

      Hi Jaggedfrost, I am still struggling with a bad temper as an adult and being overly emotional or taking things too personal. Thanks for sharing.


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