Written by: Theresa Alexander Inman, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
World Kindness Day, celebrated on November 13th, is a day dedicated to highlighting good deeds in the community, focusing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness that binds us. This year, it's essential to shine a light on a particularly important aspect of kindness: understanding and supporting people with learning differences. Before I go further, I ask myself, why is a day of kindness necessary? One would think that respect and kindness would be a natural moment event, you know like, breathing. Sadly, it isn’t always practiced by some young children. Doesn’t kindness happen naturally? Parents, I submit to you that your child learns to be kind by observing those in their environment. They are keen observers, who do what they see.
Understanding learning differences
Learning differences, often misunderstood, refer to a variety of conditions that affect an individual's ability to acquire and process information. These differences, including dyslexia, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders, among others, can significantly impact a person's educational and social experiences. However, it's crucial to recognize that these differences do not determine a person's potential or worth. People with learning differences deserve to live in a world where they are as valued as the rest of the population. Like all of humanity, they bring their unique qualities that bring joy to those who are fortunate enough to interact with them.
The role of kindness
Kindness plays a pivotal role in the lives of those with learning differences. It can manifest in various forms, from educators adapting their teaching methods to peers offering support and understanding. Kindness is about more than just being nice; it's about creating an inclusive and supportive environment where everyone can thrive. All people deserve to be treated fairly and with kindness. Remember that fair does not mean equal.
Educational institutions have a significant role in fostering kindness towards students with learning differences. This involves providing tailored educational plans, accessible learning materials, and a supportive classroom environment. Teachers and staff can be trained to recognize and effectively support these students, ensuring they have equal opportunities to succeed. Inclusive classrooms foster kindness as students get to learn about and understand each other. This generates a certain sensitivity to the needs of others that are different from our own. Students learn to embrace these differences and become more empathetic.
In the workplace
The workplace can often be challenging for individuals with learning differences. Employers practicing kindness can make a substantial difference by offering flexible working arrangements, providing necessary resources, and creating an inclusive culture. This not only benefits employees with learning differences but also enriches the workplace with diverse perspectives and skills.
In the community
Community awareness and support are vital. Public campaigns, inclusive events, and educational programs can help break down misconceptions about learning differences. By promoting understanding and acceptance, communities can become more inclusive for all members. Avoid painting everyone with a learning difference in the same brush. People are unique and have different preferences. Find out what a person likes and act accordingly.
So many stories come to mind when I think of the importance of expressing kindness in our daily lives. I remember being in the community with a client who was non-vocal. She enjoyed eating at a certain fast-food restaurant. I’ll call her Suzie. I accompanied Suzie and her mother. While Suzie stood waiting for her order, which she placed using pictures, she uttered a sound. An elderly female patron standing behind us shrieked to the gentleman with her and stated, “Don’t let her touch you, Harold!” My immediate thought was what made her think Suzie wanted to touch Harold. My second thought? Suzie’s condition is not contagious and thirdly, people in our community need to be taught to understand that people with learning differences have feelings that need to be honoured and respected.
Another moment that comes to mind took place at a preschool, where children with learning differences were included with their peers. A three-year-old girl, I’ll call Jane used a wheeled apparatus to get around and had some motor challenges with her hand. As a result, Mom sent her to school with a bib to wear at lunchtime. After a few weeks, she shared with Mom that she no longer wanted to wear a bib as none of her classmates wore one. And she ate without getting food on her clothing. Another benefit of inclusion was that her classmates were sensitive to Jane’s needs and witnessed her resilience. Many times, when they offered to assist her, she kindly declined.
On World Kindness Day, let's commit to being more inclusive and supportive of people with learning differences. Through education, awareness, and simple acts of kindness, we can create a world where everyone is valued and supported. Let this day be a call to action, to practice kindness today and throughout the year! Practicing kindness benefits the giver and the receiver. Kindness is a language that everyone understands and act everyone appreciates.
Theresa Alexander Inman, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Theresa Alexander Inman is a highly qualified parent coach with experience in the fields of infant and toddler development, play-based interventions, behavior analysis, and mindfulness. In her signature method, she uses them as a combined treatment modality to meet the unique needs of the families she serves. She believes learning should be fun and involve the whole family and/or village. Theresa is also an Author (How Can I Help My Child Communicate?) International Speaker and Trainer.