A study has shown that special-needs children have a positive influence on other children.
A study of 1520 children ages 7 to 16 found that those who regularly interacted with people with disabilities generally had better attitudes toward people with special needs. They were less fearful of them, too, and more empathetic. Even just observing other people interact with those who had special needs, or observing their friendships, improved children’s attitudes, shows the study by the University of Exeter Medical School in England.
These friendships could majorly benefit children with special needs like my son. They’d feel included instead of ostracized. It could boost their self-esteem, and even help them develop. It would open their worlds. Less obvious, I think, are the potential payoffs for children who don’t have special needs. As study author Megan MacMillan said at the recent British Psychological Society conference, “The effort to improve attitudes is worthwhile, as negative attitudes are often internalized.”