With many classrooms becoming inclusive, it is important to talk to children about physical disabilities. At first children might be curious about another student with disabilities, and their first instinct might be to stare. Instead, take the time to consider these 6 ways to explain physical disabilities to kids so you can instead encourage a conversation. This way, kids can be more familiar with disabilities and know how to handle these instances in the classroom and life.
- Ask them what they may already know about physical disabilities.
It is a good idea to first understand what impressions your child has about physical disabilities. Ask them what they know about physical disabilities, or find out if they know anyone with physical disabilities. This can help you decide where exactly to start your conversation.
- Find things the child has in common with a child with physical disabilities.
A child may not immediately see that another child with a physical disability has a great deal in common with them. Make a list of the things a child with a disability and your own child may have in common. Some ideas to consider could be favoring the same movies, television shows, snacks, and animals. This can help them see that children with disabilities aren’t so different.
- Explore children’s books that discuss the topic of disabilities.
There are many children’s books out there that can help children explore disabilities. Some books you may want to enjoy with your child include Don’t Call Me Special by Pat Thomas. This is a great read that explores disabilities in a child friendly way.
- Invite them to ask you any questions they might have.
Invite your child to ask any questions they might have. Reserve any judgements and allow them to speak freely. This way you can tackle any concerns they may have or anything that seems to be confusing them. Things seem less scary if kids are free to ask questions and know you won’t be surprised or judgmental.
- Discuss the protocol when meeting someone with a disability.
As mentioned, the first instinct for many kids when meeting someone with a disability is to stare. Talk about what a proper protocol is. Some ideas include simply saying hello, not staring, introducing yourself if appropriate, and not focusing on the disability but on the person.
- Talk about ways to help a child with physical disabilities.
Children love to help, so their first instinct might be to do everything for another child who has a disability. Children should know that people with disabilities prefer to be independent. Encourage children to ask first before assisting a person with a disability, so they aren’t overstepping boundaries or taking away the person’s independence.
While the concept of physical disabilities can be confusing for children at first, having an open and honest conversation with them can help. Consider these 6 ways to explain physical disabilities to kids, and see how they can help.