Some tips to talk to children about disability & disabled people
In today’s world, children must know and learn the importance of inclusion. Parents have to train them from a young age to contribute towards an inclusive society. Here are a few tips for parents to talk to their children about disabilities.
It is important for children to know and practice inclusion in today’s world. So if they have a friend, classmate or relative with a disability, the child must know how to interact with them. Parents and teachers play a crucial role in this. They must be taught to care and respect every person equally. It is important to talk about the differences. If the child is curious about a disability, speak to them about it openly.
Seema Lal, Founder, TogetherWeCan, a parent support group from Kerala says that inclusion is need of the hour.
It is important to respect diversity. Make your child understand that every person is different from each other. No two people have the same exact abilities or disabilities. Beauty lies in that difference which can be highlighted in different ways. The disability of a person need not be the highlight because then we are automatically putting an able person on a higher pedestal. That itself creates a segregation amongst children. As adults, we must live by examples. They must be able to learn from us. – Seema Lal, Founder, TogetherWeCan
Here are some tips to talk to your child about disabilities
Give and take respect– Most of the people in society are still unaware about disabilities. Even today, terms like differently-abled and handicapped are used for disabled people. If the parents use such terms, the child too learns from them. Remember that children are fast learners! A disability must never be used to describe a person. Teach your child to use respectful terms. It is important to give respect while you earn it.
Every human has strengths and weaknesses– Teach your child that a disability is not a person’s weakness. They are much more than that. For example, you can tell how your child’s friend who has autism, excels in making crafts. Sometimes they might need some help too. No one is perfect. It is important to see the other person’s differences and weaknesses.
Empathy matters– A person with disability does not need sympathies. They are self-sufficient and knows how to do things on their own. It is important to teach your child how to empathise with a disabled person. Talk about the similarities and how they can do things together with a disabled person.
Assistive devices must be respected– Most of the times, people tend to forget that the assistive device of a disabled person is very important to them. So whether it is canes, wheelchairs or crutches, teach your child to respect the device. The child must learn that the devices are there to help a disabled person.
Shiny Vinson, Principal, Navajeevan Special School, highlights on the importance of teaching siblings to respect their disabled siblings to treat them equally. “The disabled child must always be included in everything at home. It is important to not show sympathies to them. Talk to your child without a disability on the importance of inclusion. That way, the sibling will stay with the disabled child for a lifetime. Teach them accordingly”, she says.