Talking to Children and Teens About Being Different
I was 7 when we moved from Portugal back to Washington, D.C. On the first day of school, I immediately knew that I was different. Even though I was only in second grade, I recognized that most of the kids had known each other what seemed to be their whole lives. I don’t remember feeling “bad” about this, but I do remember recognizing it from day one. I no longer had to be in the “special” reading class I attended in my old school, and no one knew I had been in it. And I also wore a plaid skirt on my first day and felt pretty darn cute. Funny what we recall, right?
I think most kids recognize they are different before we think they do. Whether a young person has ADHD, dyslexia, a health problem, or a different sexual orientation, they will likely figure out what sets them from apart the “crowd” pretty quickly. It probably starts with the smallest moment. For me it was the moment I tried to explain to my new classmates I had moved from Portugal. Naturally, the other 7 year-olds in a small Virginian school could not relate to this. For little Arthur, it may be when he realizes he is keeps getting in “trouble” because he can’t seem to stay in his seat. Sally will realize that she is in the special reading class. She may not have any feelings about it (at first), but she will certainly notice. (more…)