Living with Every Child’s Uniqueness 個性豊かな子どもたちとの共生を願って

Published on: October 21, 2019

What can we do to accept our children’s unique characteristics and communicate with them effectively? Here’s an interview with “Oz-no-Kai,” a support group for Japanese families who have children with special needs. By Oz-no-Kai / Interviewed and translated by Hanae Matsumura [日本語記事へ]  

What is “Oz-no-Kai”? What activities do you do?

“Oz-no-Kai” is a community of families who have children with developmental difficulties or who have concerns regarding their children’s development. Established 22 years ago in 1997, we currently have about 25 families with children ranging from toddlers to high-school students.

Where does the name “Oz-no-Kai” come from?

Our group was named after the famous movie and musical “The Wizard of Oz,” in which Dorothy goes on a journey with one-of-a-kind characters like Scarecrow, Tin Man, and The Cowardly Lion. Along the way, each character makes their own discoveries and grows. The name “Oz-no-Kai” (roughly translated into “the Oz group”) represents our wish to live together with our children and their uniqueness.

What do you do in your member meetings?

We have meetups every other month and occasional roundtable talks where we exchange updates and information. On top of that, we hold Mid-Summer and Christmas parties where we can see the children’s development through lots of fun games.

What have you personally gained through Oz-no-Kai activities?

Now, I have friends to share information with, and who sympathize or give suggestions to my concerns or anxieties. That makes me feel less isolated and more relaxed.

Let’s talk about communication. What do you keep in mind when you play or talk with children at Oz-no-Kai’s meetings or parties, where each child has different needs and characteristics?

There are several basic rules for our meetups and parties.

  1. Show what comes next

We make a timetable in advance so that each member can prepare their child at home. The children then know what to expect, which alleviates anxiety. At the event, the timetable is visually shown and we mark or erase the finished items to help children understand where we are.

  1. Visualize instructions

Visual cues are used when giving directions. For example, “X” marks are applied to the equipment that children shouldn’t touch, and when we want them to move to a particular place, that place is indicated by tape. A “look-at-me” card with a popular cartoon character is also effective in attracting children’s attention.

  1. Accept, praise, show sympathy

We try to acknowledge every child’s effort with warm praise. That means we: 1) praise what was done well, even if the child lost a game, 2) express empathy with the child’s feelings, and 3) commend the child for bearing the disappointment of losing without getting emotional. We also give a “Today’s MVP” prize to every child. At the same time, we try to encourage members to support each other with the understanding that we’re all in the same boat.

Our society is becoming more open to individuals who are “different,” but what does it actually mean to respect a person’s uniqueness? Do we need to stop assuming that “anyone should be able to understand this” as the first step towards helping children develop self-confidence?

That’s right, that’s the most basic attitude parents need to communicate effectively with their children. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and coexisting with all our differences is what allows us to support each other. Our children have their own manner of perception that may differ a bit from the “common” one. Some children may be hypersensitive to sounds (acoustic hyperesthesia), have difficulty switching tracks or concentrating, feel anxious when things do not go as usual, show an extraordinary strength/weakness in a particular subject (learning disability), or interpret other person’s words and deeds differently. When they meet someone who is a little “different,” small children tend to be straightforward and say “He/she is strange” or “It’s odd that he/she can’t do this/that” without meaning ill. Please explain to them: “At school, some kids are tall and some are not, some kids are heavy and others are light. But they’re all growing. And it’s the same thing with learning, everyone has different speeds, strengths, and weaknesses. But they’re all trying their best.” If you are not sure how to communicate, ask the teacher or the parent(s) of that child. It would be a good opportunity to get to know the child better.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of living and raising children here in Bangkok as expats?

Many condos have an indoor/outdoor playground and a pool, so it’s easy for our little ones to do physical activities. The wide selection of kindergartens lets us choose the most suitable one for our child. We also have many options for after-school activities. Many of our children join the same classes as those without disabilities; in some cases, they join classes for younger children or take private lessons. And the kindness of people in Bangkok always helps us. At the same time, we have challenges too. The language barrier can be stressful in everyday life, medical care, and special care for children with disabilities. It’s also expensive if we want our child to have sufficient medical care and education or if we try to improve their quality of life. And it’s hard to walk outside with kids because there are few sidewalks or there are lots of obstacles, bumps and holes.

Living in Bangkok means we don’t have access to those public services we could utilize back home in Japan. And information in our mother tongue is limited, which makes us more likely to feel isolated, so a community like Oz-no-Kai is valuable.
Finally, do you have any suggestions for BAMBI members who worry about communicating with their children or bringing up children in Bangkok?

If you worry about your child’s development, know that you’re not alone. We’re friends who have experienced the same worries and feelings. You’re most welcome to join us!  


子どもたちの個性を認め、効果的なコミュニケーションをとるには。子どもの発達に不安をもつ日本人家庭向けのサポートグループ「オズの会」に話を聞きました。 By オズの会 / インタビュー:松村英恵


OZの会は、お子さんの発達に不安を感じている、またはお子さんに障害のあるお母さんや家族の情報交換の為の自助サークルです。今から22年前の1997年に設立されました。 現在は25前後の家族が参加しており、幼児から高校生まで、様々な年齢の子がいます。  








子どもたちの個性や特性、その時の状況に応じた対応が必要になりますが、全般的に言えることとして、夏祭りやクリスマス会では以下のことに気をつけています。 ①見通しを立たせること 進行プログラムを作成し、各家庭で事前にお子さんに説明してもらいます。こうすることで先の見通しが立つので、お子さんの不安を減らすことができます。 当日は、会の流れを視覚化し、終わった内容に花丸を付けたり、項目を消したりします。 ②指示の視覚化 会場の触ってはいけない物には「X」のカードを貼ったり、座る位置やゲームの開始位置などにテープを貼ったりしています。 また、司会者に注目してほしい時、アンパンマンなどキャラクターの「見て」カードを出すなど、言葉だけでなく、視覚的に伝えられるようにしています。 ➂認めて、褒める。共感する。 失敗しても大丈夫という雰囲気作りや、どのような発表でも褒める、受け止める体制作りを心掛けています。具体的には、ゲームで負けてしまっても良かった点を褒める、悔しかったね等と共感する、感情的にならずに我慢できた事も褒める等です。 また、ゲームなどは勝敗関係無しに「今日の頑張ったで賞」を用意し、皆が順に貰えるようにしています。 これらに加えて、相互理解のもと、「お互い様」の気持ちを持って助け合うことも同じように重要だと思っています。  


その通りだと思います。 まずは親さんが、そのような姿勢でないと子供に伝わらないと思います。 良い所も苦手な所も様々で、色々な人が共存しているからお互い助け合いができますよね。 私たちの子どもの中には、様々な音に敏感過ぎる(聴覚過敏)、切替が苦手、いつもと違う流れや予定変更に不安を感じる、学力の凸凹が激しい(LD/学習障害)、色々な要因や原因により集中しにくい、受け取り方が独特などなど、一般的と言われる基準とは少し違う感覚を持っています。 集団の中で、特に小さなお子さんに関しては悪気なく「あの子◯◯で変だね。」「◯◯できなくておかしいね。」とストレートな発言をする場合があると思いますが、「同級生の中でも身長や体重が違うように、できるできないのスピードも、得意な事も苦手な事もそれぞれなんだよ。頑張っているところなんだよ。」と説明してもらえたら嬉しいです。 もし、コミュニケーションに困っている場合は、先生や相手の親御さんにどうすれば良いのか相談してみて下さい。きっと相手のお子さんの事をもっと知れて良い関係に進めるかと思います。  


まずは、多くのアパートなどに室内外の遊び場やプールがついているため、小さい子供が気軽に身体を使って遊べるのがいいですね。 また、幼稚園の選択肢が多く、様々な特徴や教育方針の中から子どもに合わせて選ぶことができます。学校以外にも、リトミック、体操、ピアノ、サッカー、水泳、ダンス、お絵かき工作、英語、公文など、習い事の選択肢も豊富です。障害のないお子さんと一緒に励んでいますが、場合によっては、対象クラスを下げたり、プライベートで教えてもらうこともあります。 そしてバンコクの人たちの優しさにはいつも助けられています。 いっぽう、苦労していることもあります。やはり外国なので言葉の壁があり、生活、医療、療育などを受ける際にストレスになります。加えて十分な医療や教育を受けさせたい、生活の質を高めたいと思う場合には、それなりの金額を支払わなければなりません。また、小さい子どもをもつどの家庭も苦労していると思いますが、歩道がないところも多く、歩道があっても障害物や凹凸があり、子どもを連れて歩くのが大変です。  


もし、お子さんの発達に関して悩んでいる方がいたら… 『一人じゃないよ。ここには同じ想いを乗り越えてきた仲間が沢山います。どうぞ扉を叩いてみてください。』  

About Oz-no-Kai

Oz-no-Kai holds information exchange meetings as well as Mid-Summer and Christmas parties for families who have concerns/difficulties in their children’s development. Please feel free to contact: お子さまの発達に不安や問題をもっている家族向けに、定例会での情報交換や夏祭り、クリスマス会などのイベントを行っています。お気軽にお問い合わせください。

The views expressed in the articles in this magazine are not necessarily those of BAMBI committee members and we assume no responsibility for them or their effects. BAMBI News welcomes volunteer contributors to our magazine. Please contact