Do you Lean in or Lean out?

Theresa and Wil

(Photo: Wil and Miss Theresa, his speech therapist from birth)

When I am helping out in Wil’s Kindergarten classroom, I observe the dynamic of his relationship to his peers.

Wil is a very social guy. He loves to be with his classmates, listen to their stories, and tell his.

Though his vocabulary continues to expand, it is much more limited than his classmates.

Think about trying to convey your thoughts in just a few words…its difficult to fully express your thoughts, and also difficult for those listening to grasp what you are trying to say.

I’ve noticed two distinct reactions kids have to Wil when they don’t understand him. They either lean back and give him a quizzical look, or lean in and ask him questions.

I do not begrudge the kids who lean back, they are only 5 and 6 years old.  However, those kids that lean back will never get to know Wil. They will only think of him as different.

I adore seeing those kids lean in and engage Wil, and make an effort to understand him. He adores it, too, you can see his face light up.

These kids who lean in are saying, hey, I may not understand what you are trying to tell me right now, but its ok, you are my buddy, and I’m here for you.

They look beyond the surface level differences to befriend this sweet guy who just like them, loves to be with his buddies, run on the playground, and jump in mud puddles.

Just the other day, one of Wil’s friends asked me why Wil wears his sunglasses upside down. I answered, because the bridge of his nose is small(common for kids with Ds), his sunglasses slip right off. He’s found that they don’t slip that way. Her response, Oh, I get it. Then, went right back to playing. Gotta love kids!

Wil’s friends already have the key to awareness and acceptance: Lean in, ask questions and learn. You will find we are more alike than different.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kodiak My Little Grizzly
    May 04, 2013 @ 15:07:17

    Very well put! 🙂


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