The friendship between Allisen and Nalcie is sweet and, sadly, rare. Nalcie has an intellectual disability called Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome have delayed mental, social, and physical development.
For several years, I worked in middle school special education. Some of my students had intellectual disabilities like Nalcie. They might look a little different from the other kids; they might act a little younger, have harder-to-understand speech, and struggle more with learning. But guess what—in so many ways, my students, as well as other people with intellectual disabilities, are just like you. They want friends. They want to be liked and accepted. They love hanging out with kids their age. They have likes and dislikes, and interests and hobbies. They may be into art, or music, or sports, or video games, or dancing, or baking, or anything else you like to do. They’re really not that different from you.
Nalcie is about a year younger than Allisen, and acts even younger. But her emotions are the same as those of any eleven-year-old. She’s happy to be invited to a party and to hang out with her friends. She’s upset when she’s made fun of. She’s excited when Allisen, who she considers her best friend, gets to go to her family’s pizza camp with her.
Allisen and her friends recognize that Nalcie is a person too, and they treat her the way they would treat anyone else. Vee’s group only sees Nalcie’s differences, and they make fun of her for them. If they would only take the time to get to know her, they would see what Allisen sees—that Nalcie is a kindhearted girl who tries hard and who wants friends just as much as anyone else.
Are there kids like Nalcie at your school? How do you treat them? Are you an Allisen or a Vee?