Teach children how to deal with disabilities

I recently came across Raul’s side. A well known, because really impressive man who handles his disability so naturally that you just not only a wheelchair user, but an impressive personality. A while back on Raul’s own website, he published a wonderful article about how Parents to their children Can bring disability closer. I am fascinated by the openness with which he deals with situations. Instead of closing himself off and looking grumpily at children who show interest in its peculiarities, he opens his heart, shows understanding for their curiosity and quenches their thirst for knowledge. How much do I wish our son that he can deal with his own disability in a similar way in the future. Compared to Raul, he will never stand out so much. But even for the few who will later notice his hearing aids – I hope – he will hopefully only be remembered as a wonderful, unique person and not as a boy with a disability. The more openly we treat "other" people, the more naturally we deal with the fact that all people look different, some of them are restricted or have a rather unusual appearance, the sooner our children become open-minded and tolerant adults.

Raul addresses incredibly important points that we parents can follow in order to answer many questions for children and to take away uncertainties.

10 tips to teach our children how to deal with disabilities openly

  • Answer questions like "Why can’t the man run" instead of choking them to the core.
    Depending on the age of the children, this answer can be detailed or quite simple. The little ones are often satisfied with something like: "The man has an illness that makes him unable to walk" or simply "He has an ouch". If you find the courage yourself and the person concerned seems to be quite friendly towards the child, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask. Many of these special people are happy to answer the children’s many questions.
  • Do not counter the children negatively if they speak directly to disabled people
    One should try to see the children’s curiosity as something positive. By facing their questions with anger, shame or fear, you immediately put feelings on a topic that children should not develop.
  • Do not always combine disability with pity
    Parents should not immediately make their children feel sorry for everyone with disabilities. Many feel wonderful despite their disabilities and enjoy their lives to the fullest. It is nicer to show that disabilities make people unique, that the world is full of different people, some of whom may small and large Carry special features with you.
  • Encourage to help, but right
    Of course, it is nice if your own child is particularly helpful as soon as they see that someone needs help. However, they should also learn that it is important to always ask if they can help. Not all physically restricted people like to accept help and then find it more uncomfortable. Children should also see that, despite some limitations, many things can be done without help if you try hard.
  • Wheelchairs and prostheses are "new" parts of the body
    Raul writes about the importance of children not seeing these things as objects that represent helplessness, but as things that give strength. Particularly fast legs and strong new arms also sound much nicer than "oversized strollers".
  • We transfer our feelings to the children
    Many of us feel insecure when we face disabilities. It is understandable that we often do not know how to approach affected people. Of course, we don’t always know the perfect way ourselves. But we should try to be safe and relaxed so that our children are too.
  • Watching is fine as long as it’s not staring forever
    Children have puppy protection, says Raul. You can watch longer than adults. Nevertheless, children should also learn that long looks can be uncomfortable in the long run, regardless of whether they are disabled or not. But a close look is almost always fine.
  • Not everyone is in pain
    It is important that children know that not every disability is painful. The thought that all these people are in constant pain can really scare children. Of course, some diseases bring this with them, but not all – the little ones should definitely know that.
  • Build a positive picture
    There are many ways that children can learn that people with disabilities share life as much as those with no restrictions. That they too can have very special skills that even a healthy person may not have, that they can achieve things that the little ones dream of. Inclusion (disabled children in schools and kindergartens, in the midst of healthy children) is the first step in this direction. Children’s books about disabilities or those with children with disabilities (positive!) Can help to build this optimistic picture of disabled people.
  • Wheelchairs are not 30% of humans
    Just because a wheelchair often takes up a lot of space visually in the image of a person who cannot walk does not mean that it also defines the person. That is why it is particularly nice when children can also see how people live in everyday life even without a wheelchair. How he might sit on the sofa, go swimming or even drive a car. It is important, says Raul, that we and the children should first see the person and then the wheelchair user who he is.

We encounter skeptical and questioning looks in our everyday life too. I also noticed that it is rarely parents who respond to our son and his hearing aids. The children’s curious questions always delight me. Above all, the way they naturally deal with the fact that the little one needs a little "help" to hear or has great hearing aids with which he can hear particularly well is simply wonderful. Parents should definitely support this curiosity!


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Christina Cherry
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