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!



By オズの会 / インタビュー:松村英恵













































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:


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.

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