This post is very close to my heart. Since my sister found out she was pregnant with my nephew, I wondered how we were going to explain to him about my disability. It’s kind of easier to explain to children in the grocery store about how came to be like this. Our go-to is “god made me like this” or “I was born like this” but I have a feeling Nolan isn’t going to let those explanations slide. I think it is important to talk about disabled people with young children.
I’ve never been able to hold him like everybody else because of my arms, so imagine the expression on his face when I started basically wagging them in front of his face when he was about three months old! He was mesmerized that these large hook-like arms that were just swinging back and forth. He’s been practically in love with them ever since. He has expressed his interest in my feet recently, one day he was on the couch and I started waving at him with my feet and he just starting waving with his foot! He’s starting to realize how different I am compared to his mom and dad. We have a special connection.
Children are both very curious and honest creatures. They haven’t been in this world long enough to see the bad unless they’ve been taught it since they were in the womb! They like to figure things out for themselves, and only ask their parents or grandparents when they’re a bit lost for words. I’ve seen a lot of kids in various ages, stare but also try to shield their faces so you don’t notice them. They usually wait to ask questions until I’m fully out of view, but I’ve realized if I tell them “hi” or I wave at them, they’ll just put you on the spot right there and you just have to go with your gut and hope their families will fill in the gaps the best they can after you leave. Here’s my advice to parents who would rather dodge this discussion because you think it might be too difficult for them to understand; if you’re comfortable then explaining the differences between a girl and a boy’s anatomy and/or race, then saying something how a person could be in braces from head to toe, standing in crutches, or rolling around in a wheelchair will be a piece of cake.
How do you explain to children about disability? Where do you stand on educating people on how to talk about some of the more common disabilities, like spina bifida, blindness, deafness, or even cerebral palsy to children at home or even at school?