If there’s one rule to follow about how to treat people with disabilities it’s this: simply treat them the way you’d treat anyone else. At Northwest Center Kids, where children with and without disabilities share the same classrooms and playgrounds, kids naturally learn that we’re all more alike than we are different. Here are some great tips on sharing that same lesson with your kids:
At PBS Parents, writer Amy Julia Becker advises parents to “Talk about disability in a way that creates commonality…. My son William came home from preschool and told me that his friend Ashley screamed a lot in school. I knew Ashley had behavioral challenges, and I almost said, ‘She can't help it, honey.’ But instead of asking him to tolerate her behavior, I talked with him about what she was good at (‘running around’) and what was hard for her (‘listening’). Then I talked about what he was good at (‘listening’) and what was hard for him (‘coloring’). Then we talked about how they could help each other.”
Seattle Children’s Hospital encourages parents to talk to children about “individual differences and respect. Your response will shape your child's future attitudes and actions toward people who live with ongoing health conditions or disabilities.” Their ideas include giving brief, direct answers to preschool-age children, sharing more facts with older kids, and always using “people-first” language. “It's more respectful to say that a person has a disability, rather than that a person is disabled. This way, the disability or illness is just one part of that person and not the defining feature.”
Disabled World reinforces this advice, saying, “Childhood is perhaps the best time to create an understanding of the fact that people with disabilities need to be perceived as people first.” Along with many helpful tips on talking to your kids, Disabled World includes a list of books for kids that parents can use to explain differences.
We hope you enjoy this opportunity to share with your child as you both learn more about all the different, amazing types of people that make up our world. You might also enjoy this article: Fun Outings in Seattle For Children of All Abilities
Northwest Center is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization. We envision a day when all people have the same opportunity to learn, work and enjoy a fulfilling life. From birth to retirement, we support people with disabilities.
Northwest Center is passionate about equal rights, anti-ableism, and full inclusion for people with disabilities. Thank you for reading.