A child's view of disabilities

Filed under: In The News

Jared and Sara are quite familiar with wheelchairs, walkers, and so on. Both of them have been hanging around folks with varying degrees of physical disabilities almost since birth. When one woman they know got an electric wheelchair, they both wanted to see the control panel light up and learn how it worked. They didn't really seem to notice her twisted feet or wonder why she couldn't walk. As they get older, I'm hoping they don't see physical differences as being of any great import. I'm hoping their ongoing experiences will teach them to see past the physical to find the person inside.

In that vein, I found this article quite interesting and enlightening. I know I've been conscious of the not-staring thing in the past. In reality, however, by seeing -- really seeing, not just looking -- a person and then recognizing that what you see and what they're like inside are not connected, kids learn to accept people as they are, not how they look.

The innocence of children leads their minds down different paths from adults. The author notes that "the child with no personal reference base sees a host of possibilities and questions out of innocence and curiosity rather than preconceived notions." One of those questions -- which makes perfect sense if you stop and think about it (or maybe don't think about it) -- is "Why do you get to ride around when I have to walk?"

The point is that we shouldn't shield children from people who have different challenges, but encourage kids to get to know them so as to see they aren't really different at all, in any meaningful way.

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