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Langley mom speaks out after son with Down syndrome left out of birthday party

B.C. mom’s emotional Facebook post shines a spotlight on kids with special needs
A Langley mother's emotional Facebook post is shining a harsh spotlight on our attitudes towards special needs children. Jennifer Palma has more.

UPDATE: Kiss-Engle says that her child has now been giving an invitation to the birthday party

A Langley mom has penned an open letter on Facebook after her son was the only child in his class not invited to a birthday party. Even more heartbreaking, she says the reason is because her son has Down syndrome.

Jennifer Kiss-Engele addressed the letter to the mother whose child handed out the invitations during class to everyone except her son, adding that she understands “this was not an oversight on your part, that it was an intentional decision to not to [sic] include my son.”

“I know it’s not because he’s mean, you couldn’t meet a happier child. I know it’s not because he’s not fun, he has a great sense of humour and an infectious laugh. I know it’s not because your child and him don’t get along, he’s brought up your child’s name on several occasions.

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“The only reason why you decided it was OK to not invite my son to your child’s birthday party is because he has Down syndrome.”

Kiss-Engele goes on hoping to educate the woman on Down syndrome, admitting that she also had been ignorant about the issue prior to having her son, Sawyer. But seeing the way her other two children and Sawyer interact and connect proves her son’s disability has had nothing but positive effects on their family.

“Having a brother with Down syndrome has helped shape them into compassionate individuals who know that just because you may be a little different [than] others, that it’s OK.”

And his difference is no reason to exclude him, or anyone, Kiss-Engele adds.

“Maybe you are struggling with the words to say to your child because your child did not want my son at their birthday party …  But this is a great opportunity and life lesson to have with your child. They will remember the time that their parent said to them, it’s not OK to leave someone out because of their disability, race, or gender.”

She also says this latest event has made her realize that Sawyer has hardly been invited to any birthday parties, and that it is now up to her to educate his class on what having Down syndrome means.

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“I now know how important it is to talk about it and it’s something I am committed to doing a better job of.”

With that commitment, Kiss-Engele’s Facebook post has now been shared over 900 times and ‘liked’ by over 1,100 people. It’s also received over 250 comments in support.

But for this mom, the conversation isn’t nearly over. Signing off the letter, she states that she is open to talking it out with the other mother.

“Please know that I am here to talk if you would like. I may be a mama bear but I am not a scary person.  I recognize that we all make mistakes and at the end of the day, I think we both could have done better.”

Read the full letter below: