The chapter on “disability” is large, and it might be challenging to explain to children. It requires patience and delicate handling. Why someone is disabled, what this means for them and those around them, how it happened, and why, how they feel, and how different their life is – these are all important questions to address.
And ultimately, how should we behave towards them, differently or “normally”? Children have a natural curiosity and often express thoughts and words without filtering them. It’s important to discuss the topic of disabilities with them and help them better understand that there are people around us who speak, behave, or move a little differently.
People with special abilities. This could even apply to our own child who might wonder why they are not like the other children. It’s important to recognize and emphasize that being different is not a bad thing; quite the opposite. However, we should teach our children not to use words that belittle, single out, or target a person to describe their disability. Apart from being impolite, it lacks understanding and empathy. Just as our child is hurt when they are teased, spoken to rudely, or targeted, the same goes for other children and adults.
The points to emphasize when explaining to your child what a disability is or what it means are:
- Some people are born with disabilities, or they may experience an injury or accident during their lifetime and may not return to their previous state.
- A physical disability does not automatically mean a cognitive disability! Make it clear to children that someone’s body may be different, but their mind, thoughts, and emotions remain alert.
People with disabilities are not sick, and in no case is this “difference” contagious.
Explain to children that sometimes people with disabilities may use special equipment. They might have a wheelchair, crutches, wear hearing aids, etc.
Show them the designated parking spots, specially designed sidewalks, and support bars. Teach children that we should respect these places a little more, and in no case should we exploit them, violate them, or block access with our bicycles or vehicles.