Social Distancing Teaches Us How Kids With Disabilities Feel

Nothing is business as usual right now, and I spent all of last week (probably like all of you) figuring out how to adapt to this new reality called “social distancing.” I’ve been trying to figure out what bums me out so much about the concept of “social distance.” Obviously, it is a critical practice right now and we should all abide by the guidance of our state and local officials, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

It’s not like I’m an extrovert who thrives on a high level of human interaction (I’m not). In some ways, I’m a pro at home isolation. I regularly spend weekends reading,

working on jigsaw puzzles,

and taking long walks with my pup in an empty, unpopulated meadow. In some ways, my home routine has not been disrupted.

But, I figured out what it is! The practice of “social distancing” when it’s a personal preference feels natural. But, for children with disabilities, being isolated from others is not a preference, but a way of life that has been forced upon them by an inaccessible society. There are many ways that kids with disabilities are isolated from other kids, at school, and in the community. This is why KIT exists – to overcome social distancing and create a sense of belonging for every child. No child excluded.

It’s hard to fight for inclusion when literally everyone is excluded. The work we do to support inclusion has moved from the classroom, the ballfield, the preschool, and the camp program, back to the living room. Right now, while our inclusion training services are paused, our KIT Inclusionistas are working on sharing our inclusion tools and resources with parents, who are trying to carry on with school at home. If you don’t yet follow KIT on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, now would be a good time to start.  Below are links to take you to our social media channels.  We are sharing free videos, tip sheets, and courses that apply to parents and staff. We’d love for you to share them with your networks. It has never been more true that we are all in this together.

This global pandemic will end. No one knows when, or for how long we’ll be social distancing. My hope is that now, while we are all trying to figure out the new normal, that we also remember that being socially distanced has been the regular experience for many children with disabilities. I am hopeful that when this is over, and we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming, we’ll have more appreciation for the vital role that community plays in our lives.  I am optimistic that with this new understanding, society will not tolerate communities where some are isolated and excluded.

I hope that you are your family are safe, and well, and finding ways to make this best of this situation. Please do let me know if there is anything we can do to support you.