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Attention in Public

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well and had a great week. Today I want to talk about attention in public because at least with my family we get quite a lot.


Attention in public is definitely something I do not like all the time. I mean lets face it, I am a teenager and I don't like the attention of random strangers. My family, as well as most special needs families, stick out like a sore thumb in public or a crowd, even though we are probably the best, most awesome sore thumb out there. I know that it is not everyday where the typical person would see someone with special needs, and the natural reaction for someone when they see something out of the ordinary is to stare. I understand why people stare, if I did not have Cate in my life, I probably would too.


What I do not understand is when adults blatantly stare at my family in public. I personally believe that adults should know better and either have been educated or educated themselves on inclusion and should know that no matter how different someone is, they are still just a person. It is really frustrating for me to see adults staring at my family, especially when it is so obvious that they can't even play it off as looking at something else, and my usual happy response to most attention changes. I typically just go for the hard look right into their eyes (basically saying I see what you are doing and I do not like it) or I will just simply meet their stare and say hi. This usually stops the stares. On the other hand, I completely understand when young kids look at my family because I honestly think they should. From a young age, kids should be educated on inclusion and how people different from them are still just people. I think kids should stare and ask questions. I have had kids ask me about Cate on multiple occasions in public, and I think it is great. Parents have told their kids not to ask me about Cate before, and I honestly love when they do because it is a chance to teach about inclusion. If a kid stares and does not say anything, a smile or a hello is usually my response because it


makes the situation a positive thing.


Dealing with lots of attention in public is a part of being a sibling/parent of someone with special needs, and again it is just figuring out what is best for you. As much as I do not like it, I know how to deal with people staring at my family, and this is developed over time. I have really come to realize that the best way for me to deal with my frustration of people staring at my family in public is to look at it as an opportunity to advocate and educate for inclusion. Inclusion is such an important thing to learn and be educated on, and any opportunity to spread awareness is worth any uncomfortable attention to me.


I hope you have a great week and weekend!


-Alex



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