The art of making friends in childhood can be perplexing, exciting and also downright heartbreaking. Devastated after witnessing her son being ignored over and over during a trip to the local pool, one mum has taken to Facebook in an open letter in the hope of educating people.
Kristen Miller Rumphol had taken her son Brandon - who has Down Syndrome - to the pool in Algonquin, Illinois and watched as he attempted to make friends to play with and was rejected by every child.
"To all that were at the Algonquin public pool. I am a special needs mother, my son Brandon has Down Syndrome. I never thought I would be one of those mother's that write an open letter for all to read but here I am," she wrote
Kristen then detailed what happened.
"Today while at the swimming pool my heart was breaking! You see NO ONE wanted to play with my son. He would go up to other kids and say 'hi boy or hi girl'. He is still categorised as nonverbal and he is hard to understand but he was trying his best! Every single time the kids would either look at him weird and say nothing or just swim away. Brandon would look back at me with a look of disappointment. Not understanding why the kids were being mean to him."
She then appealed to parents to educate their kids about people with special needs.
"Parents, please educate your children! Tell your children that children with special needs want the same thing they do, they want to be accepted. They want to be included and treated just like every other "normal" child. They want friends that won't judge them and will just accept them as they are."
Not sure what to tell the kids about Down Syndrome? Kristen imparted her advice.
"If they ask, 'What is Down syndrome?' Tell them it is a third copy of the 21st chromosome. Every person with Down Syndrome will learn to do the same thing as everyone else it just takes them longer to get there. They will need more help to there. But they WILL get there!"
She ends the letter with, "Help me to spread awareness for all children with special needs just not down syndrome. They just want to be loved, accepted and included!"
Making the post public, Kristen wrote that she hoped her message would go viral and encouraged everyone to share it. To date, it has been shared nearly 15,000 times and has more than 1,400 messages of support and solidarity.