Tips on How to Talk to a Child About Disabilities
It is highly likely that your child has someone in their life who has a disability. Disability covers a range of conditions from autism to wheelchair users, from dyspraxia to multiple sclerosis. We also know that children love to ask questions and can be quite direct in how they form them. It is important not to brush questions around disabilities to one side nor should there be a huge talk about them either. Getting the right balance is key to any discussion around disabilities. Knowing what to say and how to say it can be the tricky parts to get right.
Tell It Like It IsThis is important in helping your child understand disabilities and it is absolutely fine to use the words disabled and disability. If someone has a prosthetic leg, then explain why this is the case. Is it muscle related, or injury related? Being as straightforward as possible helps children understand more easily. Using the words disabled and disability are perfectly fine to use in discussion. Sharing appropriate language with children help them discuss disabilities more easily and more confidently.
RespectPeople who are disabled are still people. Children will often as what is 'wrong' with that person, and it is vital that this language is challenged. The term wrong implies a negative value, and this is not the case. A person might have difficulty walking without an aid of some kind, but this doesn't mean there is something wrong with them. Feeling sorry for a disabled person is also a lack of respect. On the flip side of this, you must try not to create an image of inspiration just because they have a disability. Speak about and to disabled people as you would any person and model this to children.
Point Out SimilaritiesYou and your child will be amazed at the number of similarities they have with other children, including those with a disability. Just because someone has been diagnosed with Downs Syndrome, doesn't mean they can't like they same sports team as you. Someone who is deaf can still be amazing at maths. Pointing these out to your child shows them that disabled people are still real people, they just need help with certain things.
It's Ok to Ask and OK Not to KnowChildren should be encouraged to ask questions to further understand the world around them and questions around disabilities should be no different. Telling children to shush or that's its rude to ask questions like that is teaching them that disabled people need to be treated differently and that having a disability is shameful. Answering questions as directly as possible is key here, but also is the ability of you, the grown up, to admit when you don't know the answer. Quite often people make wild assumptions around why someone has a certain disability, and this leads to misconceptions. Better still, ask the person your child is referring to, if they would mind explaining about their disability. This shows children that it is ok to not know everything and that it is ok to ask someone a question.
Learn TogetherAdmitting you don't have all the answers and then researching it shares an important life skill with your child. It also helps you to use the correct terms when speaking to your child. There are plenty of child friendly websites and stories related to disabilities which will answer the questions you can't.
There is far more understanding around the world of disabilities now and it is important that the next generation are fully equipped to continue this. This increased awareness is a good thing, and this is what your child needs to understand.
Guest Blogger:Emily Henry is a highly respected writer at bothTop paper writing services. Her writing is created for and also about kids. She splits her time between article writing and working as a tutor.