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Family 411: Book by local woman teaches tolerance

FAIRFIELD, Ohio (Sheila Gray) -- Sometimes the best ideas come from adversity.
The mother of two special needs children has turned her family's struggles into a way of helping other parents teach lessons in tolerance.  Sarah Rathel's children were diagnosed at a young age with severe language delays and communication issues.

Sarah Rathel said, "We would watch them play with their neighbor friends, and they couldn't really talk with them.  They're not being mean, they just genuinely don't understand."

Sarah had trouble finding resources to help her kids and their friends, so she created a series of children's books with a message. 

"We're all different and that's okay, and we should be celebrating that," she tells Local 12. 

71 percent of students nationwide report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school.  And the National Education Association says about 160,000 children nationwide miss school every day because they're afraid of other students.

Jenny Wendth responded when asked when kids stop being accepting, "In my experience, it really doesn't start until the later elementary and middle school years. That's really when they get into those cliques and start to try to be cool."

Parents can teach acceptance by demonstrating it themselves, but educators say it's even more important to give kids the opportunity to work and play with others who are different.  Retired phys-ed teacher Kim Nuxhall says it's all about giving kids experiences.

Buddy programs are one way to put kids together to interact.  Miracle leagues around the country team able bodied buddies with special needs players on the baseball diamond.  When a young child spends time working with kids with special needs, something's going to trigger down the road.

Sarah hopes her books will spark conversations in school and at home.  And kids will learn if we weren't different the world would be a pretty boring place.

Proceeds from Sarah's, "Something Different" books help the Ronald McDonald House and other charities. 

CLICK HERE for a link about the book, "Something Different."

CLICK HERE for a link about buddy programs.

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