Back-to-school advice: interacting with special needs children

Back-to-school advice: interacting with special needs children

TYLER (KYTX) -- With school back in session, your kids are seeing old and new faces in the halls. Some of which, may look or act differently from them. Not all know how to approach these special needs students.

We met one 6-year-old, who doesn't know the word "can't". Upon meeting Will, you quickly realize he's not letting anything hold him back.

"I know how to write my name in cursive," Will Butts tells us.

Will is affected by congenital amputation, meaning he's missing some limbs on his hands and feet. Since his 3-year-old sister Ellie also suffers from a physical limitation concerning her joints, his mom says they've heard it all.

"A lot of times we don't know how to talk to our kids about people that maybe look different or act different," Katie Butts said.

In her personal blog, Katie recently decided to give some advice.

"A common question that kids will ask is 'what's wrong with him or her?' And I'm a mom, and there is nothing wrong with my kids. So I'm usually quick to point out they are not wrong, they are just different," Butts said.

She says staring and pointing isn't helpful.

"So instead of staring, I tell kids to smile, because everybody likes to be smiled at," Butts said.

Counselors say they work to bridge the gap in schools.

"We try to get kids to identify what is the same? What do we like that's the same?" Marty Barbieri, Tyler ISD Director of Guidance and Counseling, said.

She says they want all kids to learn acceptance, resilience, and problem-solving skills.

"We prepare them because this is a life-long issue, this doesn't just stop when they are done with public school," Barbieri said.

Katie reads a book to Will's classmates on the first day of school so they better understand him. But she hopes those visits will be numbered.


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