Why Children With Additional Needs Are Like Edgar The Dragon

By now there is a good chance that you will already have seen the John Lewis/Waitrose Christmas 2019 advert, featuring the adorable Edgar the dragon who struggles to fit in, as well as his friend Ava. I don’t know about you, but as I watched it for the first time, through the tears, it reminded me a lot about children with additional needs who, like Edgar, just want to be accepted and included for who they are.

Edgar tries to fit in, tries to do the things that the other children do like building a snowman, ice skating, or watching the unveiling of the town’s Christmas decorations, but every time it goes wrong and he finds himself being the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons. Edgar can’t help it, he was born a dragon, dragons breathe fire, the world isn’t set up for fire breathing dragons who might flare up at any time.

Edgar breathing fireChildren with additional needs are not to blame for their disability, difference, or diversity either. They were either born that way, or have acquired their condition through illness, accident, or a myriad of other reasons. They do, however, like Edgar, live in a world that doesn’t understand them, doesn’t appreciate and value them, that isn’t set up for them; a world where it is hard for them to fit in.

In the advert Edgar has a friend, Ava, who looks out for him and tries to help him. At first, she tries to stop him from getting into trouble by tying a scarf around his snout to stop him breathing fire. It doesn’t work, how could it? Edgar is a dragon and trying to stop him being a dragon is impossible, just as it is impossible to stop a child with additional needs being who they are.

Edgar with scarf

Eventually, Ava realises that the best way to support her friend Edgar the dragon is not to try and change him, but to help him to find a way to be involved and included that he can do for himself, as a dragon, while helping the townsfolk to accept and welcome him for who he is. There is a tense moment when everyone wonders what is going to happen, but then Edgar does his thing, everyone is delighted, and Edgar is the centre of attention for all of the right reasons this time.

Edgar and Ava with Christmas pudding

Children with additional needs are best supported and helped not by trying to get them to ‘fit in’, or by trying to change them into someone that they are not and can never be, but by helping everyone to accept them for who they are, including and involving them in ways that work for each child, and delighting in the diversity, difference and variety that this brings to life for everyone.

Townsfolk

The town in the advert would be poorer without Edgar, or if they tried to make Edgar someone that he is not. The town would be poorer without Ava too, someone to stand up for, support, and encourage her different friend. The same goes for us too; I long for a world where everyone is accepted for who they are, for what they can contribute, for the diversity that this brings to life for us all. I long for a world where there are more ‘Ava’s’ too, people who aren’t put off by disability, difference or diversity and who offer friendship, kindness and love to all, receiving it in return.

This year’s John Lewis/Waitrose Christmas advert will, I’m sure, touch the hearts of many for a myriad of reasons, but if it also shows the world that acceptance, welcome and belonging should be experienced by everyone, not just at Christmas but throughout the year, then I for one will be grateful.

Merry Christmas!

Mark
15th November 2019

Want to watch the John Lewis/Waitrose Christmas 2019 advert again?  Oh, go on then: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9D-uvKih_k

See also:
Seven Ways To Survive Christmas With our Own ‘Edgar The Dragons’
https://theadditionalneedsblogfather.com/2019/11/26/surviving-christmas-with-edgar/

What Disney Pixar’s New Animated Short ‘Float’ Is About Autism
https://theadditionalneedsblogfather.com/2019/11/19/float/

Image rights © John Lewis & Partners

15 thoughts on “Why Children With Additional Needs Are Like Edgar The Dragon

  1. Brilliant! One of your best! As a creative child, I never ‘fitted in’ at a highly academic school – and my kids never really did either – so how much harder for a child who had additional needs… great message, and makes us all think about what ‘fitting in’ is all about… Jesus, really, didn’t either… (yet far too many Christians act as if being conventional, behaving like the rest, saying the correct thing, and never rocking the boat is part of our faith!) Bless you & yours.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a fantastic blog. I can so relate! Yet when we breathe our fire, accidentally, not meaning to cause harm, misunderstood and ostracised, Jesus is the friend that stands besides us, understanding, compassionate and encouraging. We need never be alone. I am so thankful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful way to explain children with additional needs. I myself have an autistic child, with global development delay, she has trouble fitting in and making friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely, just lovely ❤ …not seen the advert yet but eyes leaking as I recognise not 'fitting in' or 'getting it' with others, even more so now I've stopped trying to 'fit in' for the sake of others, and that's a toughie, wish I'd stoppped trying years ago. *heads off to watch TV adverts on YouTube* x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was literally just saying exactly this to my husband. That bit with the scarf around his face seemed them perfect illustration of masking to me, it made me really sad actually. And I was left thinking at the end, “I hope they find a way to include him after Christmas too”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for writing this. It really does reflect the messaging I saw when I first watched it. Let’s hope it makes the public reflect on how they could make an effort to understand people thar don’t fit in more. X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beautiful advert, with a well thought out message. What a Marvellous way to convey the differences in people we may come across in our everyday life and to remind us how to stop, encourage and show kindness.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. We do need to expect people to change and it is reasonable to expect us all to fit in. The issue is degree. Diversity enriches us all but it sits in balance with what we hold in common. I don’t think you realise how some of the things you said, taken literally, could cause harm (though I think they were hyperbolic).. The more aspects of our behaviour that we can control and match to expectations the more freedom I have to be truly unique in other areas and still be accepted. We choose our battles and that is a skill we should assist other to gain.

    Like

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