Something About Apples by Ellen Stumbo

My daughter had a rough time at the beginning of the school year. On the first day of school, once we were in the car ready to come home, she broke down and sobbed. “It was the worse day ever!” She said.
Sometimes, it’s not easy being a kid with a disability. My daughter has a new class this year, and her classmates are naturally curious about why she has a wheelchair, why she uses a walker, why she has braces on her legs, and why she walks different.

It’s not easy to be a first grader that has to answer such personal questions about the things that make you different from everyone else. We have rehearsed how to answer those questions, but they came at her often and unexpectedly, crumbling her courage to speak up.

Kids are learning, growing, it is natural for them to wonder why someone is different, and why they might need special equipment to do the very things that come so naturally to them – like walking. So my husband and I visited the first grade class.

We brought apples, because there is something about apples. Apples can be green, red, or speckled; they look different but they are still apples. You can eat an apple, or an apple pie, or apple sauce. You can drink apple juice, or apple cider, or even apple soda. And it goes without saying that you can eat apple pie, but you cannot drink it. And you can drink apple soda, but not eat it.

We are like apples. We might look different on the outside, but we are more alike than different, we are still people, we have the same essence. And we all have different abilities. While my daughter might not be able to walk well, she is very creative, which makes her a great artist.

Yes, we are like apples. We all look a little different on that outside. We all have different gifts and talents. We are all perfectly unique.

ellenstumboEllen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor.


  1. Ellen, love your article and it totally sums up what we as parents of kids with special needs have always wanted and longed for…. acceptance.

    Thanks for the simple yet detailed reminder! I pray that it makes it easier for many parents and those that love kids with special needs to explain learning differences to others… who knows, some of them may just learn that they LOVE APPLES TOO!

  2. Marcia Wong says

    i worry all the time about my brother (he has moderate cerebral palsy) being accepted/liked by his peers. unfortunately, we live in a very judgmental society these days so too often, i hear about how kids make fun of him, don’t wanna play w/ him, etc. while i’m all for inclusion, him being hurt by others makes me want him in special education classes so he’ll be less likely to be teased, etc. maybe i’m wrong for that, but it’s out of love and protection for him. anyway, i’m glad that the apples idea went over so well, and ur so right, apples are different but there’s so many ways to enjoy them 🙂

Speak Your Mind