“My Friend Richie,” Friend, Feb. 1989, 44
HI! My name is Brittany Scott. I want to tell you about Richie Tanner, a special member of our Primary class. What makes Richie special? Well, he’s developmentally delayed, or what some people call mentally handicapped. He looks like most ten-year-old boys, but he acts younger—like maybe a five-year-old. He doesn’t speak very clearly yet, and it takes him longer to learn things.
Richie and I are in the Valiant B class in the Monument Park Ninth Ward, Salt Lake Monument Park Stake. There are five children in our class: Steven Jones, Marcus Foulger, Michael Knudson, Richie, and me. Our teacher is Janet Fawcett. She’s great! She always tells Richie what a good job he’s doing when he listens quietly to the lessons. Sister Fawcett calls on Richie to say prayers and to answer questions. She treats him like everyone else, and she tries to help Richie learn the gospel, just as she helps us.
Richie hasn’t always been able to sit through a lesson. So our Primary has tried different ways to help him. He used to have a special teacher, Sister Neva Clayton, just for him. She would sit with Richie in our class and take him out in the hall if he got noisy or disrupted the class in some other way. But now Richie can sit in class all by himself, just like everyone else!
I’ve seen Richie make good progress: he talks better, he pays attention longer, and he sings in Primary programs. I hope that someday Richie will be able to give a talk by himself.
Richie’s brothers, Michael and Russell, and his sister, Anne, help him come to Primary. He really likes Primary, and he likes to be with all the Primary children because they let him know that he belongs there. Richie adds a lot to our Primary, and he always listens to the other children when they give their talks. He sets a good example for all of us.
Sometimes I wish that I could be more like Richie, because he’s so gentle, friendly, honest, appreciative, and sincere. Richie shows his love in special ways. He’s my friend! I hope that Richie thinks of me as a true friend too. Richie is one of the neatest boys I know!