Disabilities can range from mild to severe. Whilst some are completely apparent, such as someone who uses a wheelchair or a walking stick, others may be less obvious such as someone with a learning disability or autism.
The possibility of your child coming across someone with a disability is high, especially other children or peers of their age, or older people with a disability. With this in mind, we’ve spoken to the experts over at Ability Superstore and asked them to share some ideas on the best way to approach the subject of ability and disability with children.
Everybody is different and unique
It’s important to stress that in life, no two people are the same and everyone has unique qualities. Some of these qualities are just more noticeable in some people than others.
Children with disabilities are the same as your child
Children with a disability are just the same as any other child - explain that friendship is really important, alongside respect.
You can’t ‘catch a disability’.
It’s so important to stress to children that some people are born with a disability, or they have had an accident or illness which has caused it.
As well as discussing the overarching topic of disability with your child, the way that you explain your points is important as well. Using clear and respectful language when describing disability can be helpful in normalising the subject for your child.
It’s also worth specifying that name calling or joking about disability is never acceptable, as it can hurt feelings, even without meaning to.
Special needs at school
If your child has a friend at school with special needs, there may be certain things that they will have questions about. For example, special needs teachers may be present in the classroom, working with the children in the school. There may also be equipment such as mobility aids to help with the day to day school life.
Worried about approaching a child with a disability?
If you or your child are feeling unsure about the best way to approach a child with a disability, we’ve collected a few handy tips to help:
The direct approach
Based on our experience, the majority of parents of children with a disability prefer the direct approach - an easy ice breaker can just be a simple hello!
Kids parties - how can we make this work?
If you’re having a kids birthday party, don’t be afraid to invite the child with a disability - all it takes is a simple call to find out how you can accommodate.
Extra effort goes the distance
Learning simple signs can be a great way to break the ice and communicate with a child who is deaf. Just a couple of simple sign language signals should be enough.
Disability awareness in schools
It’s worth finding out if your child's school offers any disability-awareness lessons at school. If not, then this might be a great suggestion to the school, which would be welcomed by any parent of a disabled child. Perhaps consider volunteering to help to run any sessions if needed.
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