Facebook outpouring can’t mask shunning of special needs children

We’re fairly sure news organizations are viewing this as an uplifting example of the kindness of strangers and, perhaps, it is.

But particularly in the wake of last week’s Golden Valley snub of children with mental health issues, it strikes as another example of the shunning of people who aren’t just like us.

A Michigan mother wanted her son to have a happy birthday. But he didn’t have any friends to invite to a party. So she turned to Facebook.

It worked. She got over a million birthday cards for her son.

Happy Birthday Colin Facebook page

It’s a sweet outpouring, but do the 1 million Facebook friends make up for just one face-to-face friend to come to a real party?

“The main thing was finding out that a lot of parents were trying to get their kids out of Colin’s class — and the teacher told him,” Jennifer told GoodMorningAmerica.com. “His peers don’t understand him but every adult who meets him loves him so I thought I would go to a place where adults and my friends are, Facebook, and have them write nice messages to Colin so I could share them on his birthday.”

The teacher told him? People!

How bad can we be at shunning? This is the second mother in a week who’s had to turn to strangers for what people in the community should be providing.

In Andover, Mass., Catherine Pearson showed a TV reporter all of the pictures of the life of her severely autistic 11-year old son. There were, WBZ reports, no balloons, no parties, and no friends.

“People have just felt like well ‘Logan can’t understand so we aren’t going to do anything for him like other kids,'” his dad James said.

The mailbox — as you might expect — overflowed with hugs around the world for the young man’s birthday later this month.

Nice, yes. But we’d like to hear that just one kid in their school has said, “I’d love to come to your party.”

  • Thomas Mercier

    Agreed. It’s OK that we snub people of varying disabilities by not supporting the services they need or they themselves because we don’t want to pay for it, because we don’t want it in our neighborhood, etc. As long as we send one birthday card to someone we’ll probably never encounter in our daily lives we can feel morally righteous and continue our other forms of discrimination. Sending a card isn’t bad, but stopping after only doing that certainly is failing to make any societal progress.

  • Kirsten D

    As a mother of a child who has Autism I couldn’t agree more. My son has plenty of friends in school but not one has ever called to hang out. I know I’m lucky that he has friends and is not being bullied at school. I would agree to have one of them to say yes I want to go would be awesome and not because the teacher or parent said he had to.