In a heart-wrenching open letter on Facebook, one Palatine mother described the pains of watching her son, who has Down syndrome, be ignored and avoided at a local pool, urging parents to teach their children about the condition.
Kristen Rumphol’s post has now gone viral and continues to gain attention with the emotional story of her 11-year-old son, Brandon, trying to engage with kids his own age and repeatedly being shot down. Brandon is still categorized as non-verbal and did not understand why the kids would not play with his, according to CBS.
“Every single time the kids would either look at him weird and say nothing or just swim away,” Rumphol’s letter reads. “Brandon would look back at me with a look of disappointment. Not understanding why the kids were being mean to him.”
Rumphol told CBS her goal in posting the open letter was to get parents to educate their children on Down syndrome, hoping that her son will one day be accepted by his peers. She said the message is important because kids who have special needs like Brandon simply want to be accepted, loved and included, just like other kids their age.
“Secretly I hope this might go viral,” Rumphol closes her letter. “Please feel free to share this on our page. Help me to spread awareness for all children with special needs just not down syndrome. They just want to be loved, accepted and included!!”
Since it has been posted, Rumphol’s letter has in fact gone viral, receiving nearly 15,000 shares, 12,000 likes or reactions, and around 1,400 comments, all expressing their sympathy for Brandon’s experience at the pool. The Rumphol family told CBS they have been back to that same pool three times since the post and have already seen a difference.
“Kids have started coming up to Brandon and greeting him by name,” Rumphol told CBS. “So parents must be talking to their kids about it.”