Two Little Girls

CollectiveResponsibility.jpgToday I am at a District Student Services Training for Special Education Teachers and others, which is hosted in the multipurpose room of one of our elementary schools.

There have been marvelous conversations and dialogues around supporting diverse learners, building capacity in regular education classrooms, the importance of differentiated instruction, and universal design, all within a framework of collective responsibility.

I like that… Collective Responsibility

And then, during my lunch break, I was privileged to catch an incredibly profound glimpse into the wonderful culture of this inner city elementary school…

Collective Responsibility…

In the hallway I overheard two little girls, who were heading out the big double doors for their lunch time play. I could only see the backs of their heads, but I caught a lovely bit of their conversation…

My guess is that they were in about grade 2 or 3, and they were speculating:

“I think it was the crowd that bothered him – he doesn’t like crowds…”

“No,”  responded the other child,  “I think it was the noise – he doesn’t like a lot of noise…”

And with that they were gone…

I was only privileged to hear a tiny snippet of their interchange before they were out the door for their noon-time adventures…

Collective Responsibility

Those little girls get it!

Collective Responsibility

And they got it from someone…

They got it from their school…

Collective Responsibility

They got it from opportunities to discuss and to imagine the experience of another…

Collective Responsibility

They got it from opportunities to hear the language to frame those experiences effectively…

So that they understood…

So that they extended understanding to another… and had the language to discuss it… and speculate… and GET IT!

Collective Responsibility…

and the potential impact that has on two little girls…

and from there – it can only grow…

And that was the best-shiny-star-beautiful-golden-hope part of my day!


30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2013)

About Leah Kelley, Ed.D.

Leah Kelley, M.Ed, Ed.D., Writer, Consultant, Activist, Speaker, and Educator, working with Teacher Candidates at UBC. Authors blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding, Neurodiversity paradigm, Disability Justice, and connecting Disability Studies in Education(DSE)to Educational Practice. Twitter: @leah_kelley Facebook: 30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley
This entry was posted in acceptance, advocate, Autism, Collective Responsibility, diversity, Educator, language, perspective of others, promote social understanding, Special Education and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Two Little Girls

  1. autisticook says:

    Fostering difference and teaching acceptance. 😀


  2. suvarna says:

    wonderful moment


  3. o wow. I love this. and I love the phrase collective responsibility. I need to work that into my lexicon.


  4. colinb897 says:

    Love it. Love what you came across. Love how you told story about it. Collective responsibility, yes.

    “So that they extended understanding to another… and had the language to discuss it… and speculate… and GET IT!” That is the way on which things can get better.


    • Leah Kelley says:

      Thank you, Colin.
      Sometimes we need children to remind us of the profound ability they have, given the opportunity, to extend deep understanding to others…
      It is a part of our collective responsibility, then, to look for and/or create those opportunities. I know that is a huge part of your work. Thank you for all that you do ♥


  5. Life&Ink says:

    I totally understand how this overheard exchange warmed your heart. And it’s why we did an inservice in my son’s class starting in 4th grade with his return to a mainstream classroom. We felt by letting kids understand Teddy they could be part of the solution instead of the problem of teasing so often caused by ignorance. By letting them know, by helping to answer their very normal questions about why Teddy did some of the things he did, we could empower them to help. With information, with the understanding that came from answering their questions we included them, we respected them and they didn’t disappoint. They looked out for him, rather than take what we shared to make fun of him. And if anyone did misuse the information well then there was a learning opportunity to speak to them, but that didn’t ever have to happen. When you frame something as positive, when you highlight the strengths and also explain the areas of challenge you take charge, you get to paint the picture. We have never been ashamed of Ted and Aspergers. Actually, quite the opposite. He has taught many people many wonderful lessons. Where is shame in that?


    • Leah Kelley says:

      Oh, I just love that you shared this. Yes! Perfect!

      Children can be an amazing support when they have accurate information – the common language to frame experience – and when we model acceptance and understanding and an attitude of sensitive inquiry about the experience on others and ways to support them.

      Thank you and ((hugs)) and YAY, Teddy!!


  6. PK says:

    This is so beautiful, it made me tear up. Collective responsibility takes work, but boy, the payoff!


  7. Leah Kelley says:

    ((Hugs)) and thank you! Those two little girls really moved me as well and absolutely filled my heart with hope…


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