Have you ever taken what you thought was a small step and when it’s all said and done you look back to see it was more of a giant leap. I just did. Yesterday was the day that we explained Rett Syndrome to Claire’s 2nd grade class. The presentation went great. The teacher opened up with the kids singing “This land is my land” and then talked about how there are all sorts of different people, some of them even on wheels like Claire. We went on and gave the kids a chance to see what it was like to be Claire as we asked questions but the answers had to be given without talking or using their hands. The children were amazing. At the end they were all so stoked to ask Claire yes/no questions. This wasn’t anything too new. The same thing happened last year. Claire has friends that do this with her all of the time. In fact, this was less of a giant leap but actually several small steps that have been made over the last two years. What changed was my perception. I remember being in 2nd grade. There wasn’t anybody remotely disabled at my public elementary school. In fact, before finding out that Claire had Rett Syndrome I was completely oblivious to the fact that people lived with various disabilities. I knew that people got old and needed wheel chairs and walkers but I had no idea that kids ever used them. The first time that I met another child with Rett Syndrome I felt so awkward. I didn’t know what to say or what to do. That’s what happens when you don’t get exposed to something, it’s awkward. As I looked at the room of 2nd graders I saw something new. Instead of looking for that one friend that would be enough to keep Claire’s anxiety away I saw a room full of well rounded citizens of the world. They are getting to learn at a young age that the world is diverse on so many different levels. To these kids, the little girl in the wheel chair isn’t as different as it was for me. There is a group that I belong to that recently had a trend of #rocktheawkward. That is my new battle cry as we live life out there in the big scary world. I know that there are a lot of people that we will meet that won’t know what to say and that is alright. Let’s all just admit it. It is crazy that we institutionalized children that were severely disabled but until recently that is largely how it was handled. Educating children that are completely non-verbal is a newer thing. I know this. I understand that you might feel embarassed asking questions, I used to feel that way and sometimes I still do. But lets rock the awkward. Lets be a world where people with Rett Syndrome, Autism and the all of the other disabilities are embraced as the humans that they are. I’m pretty sure we will all be better for it.