Critical Conversations: Disabilities

Filed under: In The News

My kids are quite familiar with wheelchairs. We volunteer once a week at a nursing home where a goodly portion of the population use them. A fair number more use walkers, canes, and other assistive devices. They're familiar with the effects of aging, from twisted bones that make walking difficult and painful to the fear that can come with not knowing where you are, where you're going, or what's going to happen to you, thanks to advanced Alzheimer's.

When we recently attended a party for a friend of mine -- a friend who happens to have cerebral palsy and walks with two canes -- it was the noise and vast numbers of adults that gave Jared pause, not Kip's disability. I'm not even sure Jared or Sara noticed. I know Jared liked the chicken he made. When I asked Jared about it, he kinda remembered Kip's canes, but said "It doesn't really matter."

As they grow up, I know I'm going to do my best to make sure that they are not only accepting of those with different abilities and challenges, but that they are sensitive to the needs of others. That is, I don't want them to just be okay with people with disabilities, but to be thinking about how what they do will affect others, including those with disabilities.

After all, it's the person inside that matters, not the body outside. There are a gazillion beautiful women in Hollywood, and Angelina Jolie would just be one of them, were it not for the good work she does elsewhere in the world. Steven Hawking has certainly proven that intelligence can overcome physical disabilities; all the physical prowess in the world, however, won't make up for flaws of character. I'm hoping that my kids continue to learn that.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.