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Having worked as both a classroom and special education teacher, I’ve witnessed the range of emotions kids feel when confronted with people who have different needs and abilities. While it would be nice if children were automatically kind and respectful to everyone they encounter, this isn’t always the case.

In fact, fear and discomfort are common when kids don’t fully understand what’s going on. And, as full inclusion of kids with special needs has become the norm, many children are being introduced to classmates with unfamiliar differences, like autism and cerebral palsy.

Without the proper introductions, kids sometimes worry conditions are contagious or otherwise scary, and they can act out in undesirable ways (like laughter) because they're nervous. Accordingly, it’s really important for parents and teachers to work together to help kids better understand what's actually going on.

When steps are taken to build empathy, true classroom communities are formed and children support each other in the most remarkable ways. Moreover, everyone benefits from learning to work together and seeing the world through someone else’s eyes.

Ready for some tips on how to help your kids understand developmental differences? Let’s take a look.