Here are some ideas to help children learn about disabilities
When children meet or notice a child with disability, they may feel the difference but in most cases will not able to understand the reason. Grown-ups can help kids understand about disabilities and how it affects the children.
A disabled child is as much a part of society as a child without disabilities.This mutual respect and acceptance can be made a part of the upbringing of children. Childhood is the time for learning lessons for the future and this can be used to sow the seeds of inclusion.
Children are always curious about knowing and learning new things that they see or encounter. They may be also curious about disability. As a parent, teacher or adult one must have first-hand knowledge about disability. Provide complete information since your child may have to face student with disability at school. Best is to search on net. Avoid using degrading phrases in presence of your child. Share correct and complete information to sensitize your child towards such society. Vishant Nagvekar, member of the Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG).
Here are a few ideas to let children understand disability and look beyond them,
Children with disabilities may seem different to other children due to physical or behavioral traits. We can tell children that being different is not a bad thing. Teach the children to accept the differences and respect each other despite them.
Tell the children that even with the differences due to disabilities, we are all the same. Realizing that we all are human with or without disabilities will go a long way in creating an inclusive mindset in children.
Guide the children to look for what is common between them and disabled children. Likes, dislikes, favorites and not so favorites, there are so many things that define a person and disability is not one of them.
Children need to understand that being with a disabled child will not cause sickness. Children may not understand the medical condition of a disabled child but we can explain that a child with disability is not always sick.
It is important to teach the right words to children about disabilities and people with disabilities. Let’s not use the terms like abnormal, retard, weird when talking about disabilities. We can help the children learn the right way to talk about disabilities that is not demeaning and insulting.
If a child is curious about another child with disability, it is alright to answer their questions. Children can understand about their world and surrounding better when they ask questions and seek answers.
We can also use books, pictures, videos, stories to help children understand about children with disabilities.
- Encourage children to behave with ease and comfort around disabled children. Let them spread the love and cheer without creating boundaries in their hearts and minds.
Meera Balaji is a parent of child with autism and shared her views with NewzHook. She is also a member of parent support group - SCAN based in Chennai.
“Maybe from childhood if a kid is taught to move around with disabled children this problem may reduce. It is easier for physically challenged kids to mix with others.”
She also said that in her experience children are sensitive to the needs of other children with disabilities and become better friends after understanding their condition.
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