Being the disabled mother of a disabled child, I know that things aren't always designed with us in mind. I am Deaf, my son is autistic, and there is a lot out there in the world that doesn't work with our struggles or highlight our strengths. Something as simple as a sweet note on a treat would fly right by the notice of my child, so I'm very excited that Rice Krispies is making love notes more accessible by making them a sensory experience for kiddos like mine.
For years, the Rice Krispies Treats' package featured a solid white heart on the back where parents could pen little missives to their children. It was a sweet concept that really took off. Unfortunately, it wasn't accessible for every child, and Kellogg knew this. That's why last year, they designed Braille stickers that you could order that fit perfectly on the white heart of the treat, as well as creating re-recordable boxes that allowed for the love notes to be heard, rather than read. This year, beginning on Aug. 13, parents will be able to order free sensory love notes stickers that are meant to be felt, rather than read. They will include faux fur, silk, velour, satin, and fleece, giving kids who experience the world differently something new and unexpected in their lunch.
My son is the light of my universe, but his behaviors and quirks don't always make sense to those on the outside looking in. Yes, he tells me he loves me, and I tell him that I love him, and those are both genuine and we mean them, but that's not what really registers in his brain. Words are not what resonates in him when he thinks about love. For my son — as best as I can understand, not being autistic — he feels and understands love and happiness as a physical sensation. He will tell you that "love is soft," or "love is like a really good squeeze." While he may see a love note and like it, to him, it will be a fleeting set of letters on a wrapper. The fact that I gave him the treat at all is the real measurement of my love to him.
If he opened his lunch box to find something new to feel between his fingers, providing fun sensory experience, that would mean exponentially more to my son who lives this world first through what he can feel and taste. His ability to interact with what he already perceives as a happy gift will be precious to him. It will give him a calm moment in a busy lunchroom, where he might not feel comfortable, and might be overwhelmed.
Kellogg's press release stated that this new innovation "was inspired by children like S.J. Monville, a kindergarten student with autism. S.J. is relocating from a special needs school to a public school this year — a big transition for him during a season already filled with change." A boy not so different from my own child, who transitions to middle school this September. S.J.'s family's concerns echo my own. Will he be isolated? Will he be overwhelmed? How can I make sure that my child has a bright spot in a tough day? That's why I am so grateful that Rice Krispies is making love notes more accessible.
This year, I want my child to know that I am thinking of him, even if I'm not there, and I know I'm not alone. One in 59 children has autism, according to autism nonprofit, Autism Speaks. And now that Autism Speaks has paired up with Kelloggs on these genius sensory stickers (available here), I know that he will have at least one more precious reminder.