Courtesy Brittany Denison Brittany Denison with her son Michael
A Texas mother is pleading for other parents to teach their children “acceptance and kindness” as her son with special needs prepares to start kindergarten.
Brittany Denison explained in a Facebook post on Friday that her son Michael, 5, was born with a rare condition called Treacher Collins syndrome, just like Auggie, the main character in the popular children’s novel Wonder and its 2017 film adaptation.
According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, the condition is caused by a gene mutation and characterized by “distinctive abnormalities of the head and face.”
Though Michael appears physically different, Denison said her son “is mentally the exact same as all the other children (maybe even a bit smarter).”
With the first week of kindergarten quickly approaching, Denison took to Facebook to express how she was feeling about her son’s return to school — and why she wants other parents to educate their children about being kind.
“I’m so excited, yet so scared,” she wrote in the post, alongside a photo with her son. “As he gets older, he is starting to realize that he is different. He is also becoming more affected by the whispers and stares.”
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“Would you please take a moment to talk to your children before school starts next week?” she continued. “Talk to them about using words like ‘different and unique’ instead of ‘weird and scary.’ Talk to them not only about being friendly and kind, but also about being a friend.”
“Please don’t tell them not to stare! Instead let them know that if they are going to stare, it’s polite to also say ‘Hi,’” she went on. “Teach them to stand up for the kid in the room who is being picked on, and to sit with the kid who is being excluded.”
Denison also requested that parents practice what they preach by modeling “acceptance and kindness in the way you speak to other adults.”
“This includes the cashier, the drive thru employee, and the guy who didn’t use his turn signal!” noted the Midlothian-based mom, who works as a realtor.
Wrapping up her heartfelt post, Denison said she welcomes others to approach her and Michael and strike up conversation if they ever see them out and about.
“We love to answer questions about Michael’s condition and make new friends,” she explained. “If you take a step out of your comfort zone to talk to someone who you think is different, you may find out that you have more in common than you think!”
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Since posting her emotional plea on Facebook, it has been shared hundreds of times with many users leaving words of support and encouragement in the comments section.
Denison told KXAS she finds the many shares “really encouraging.”
“What a wonderful mother you are. We don’t go to that school but I’m praying for a wonderful school year for him and you!” wrote one user.
“Beautifully said! That cute face and beautiful smile will make a lot of new friends. Have fun in school,” commented someone else.
“Such a beautiful post, beautiful family, and beautiful child!” added another person. “I have a feeling that everyone in your son’s orbit is going to have the best year ever thanks to your incredible example!”