How to talk to your child about disabilities (ages 5 to 8)
If your child hasn't already encountered a person with a disability, it's likely he will at some point in school, where children with special needs are often in the same classroom with other kids. Be ready: Your curious grade-schooler will probably ask lots of questions. How you respond is likely to affect the way your child thinks about disabilities and treats others as he grows up. It's also an opportunity for you to foster an attitude of inclusion and acceptance.
How to talk to your child about disabilitiesAddress your child's curiosity. If you notice your child staring, take the lead. You might say, "I noticed you saw that little girl has a harder time walking than you do. She has cerebral palsy, which makes her muscles work a little differently." Ask if your child has questions. If you know the person with the disability, ask her yourself or let your child ask. Laura Pope of San Francisco, whose 7-year-old son, Jake, has Down syndrome, says, "Kids and parents can totally ask anything they want – it's preferable to blank stares." Be matter-of-fact. Susan Linn, a psychologist at the Judge Baker Children's Center at Harvard Medical School, suggests that you avoid emotion or going into detail. She offers this response to a question about a person in a wheelchair: "I imagine he may be having problems with his legs. He can't walk." Know your child is listening. Take care in how you describe people with disabilities. Avoid outdated, derogatory terms like "crippled," "retarded," and "handicapped." Separate the person from the condition. Say "the child who has autism" versus "the autistic child." Also, avoid referring to nondisabled kids as "normal," since it implies abnormality or a defect in others. When you and your child encounter someone with a disability, there's no need to say things like "Don't stare" or "Let's keep moving." People with disabilities may feel stigmatized by those who avoid them, and your child might get the impression that he can't ask you questions. Instead, when your child stares and says, "What's wrong with that lady?" simply explain that the person walks or communicates in a different way. Emphasize what's the same. A kid may be disabled, but he's still a kid. Talk to your child about what a classmate or neighbor with a disability has in common with others – the same age, school, or favorite sport. Teach awareness and sensitivity. If your child starts asking detailed questions, offer to help him find answers at home. Go online together to learn more about a particular disability. Be sure to not only point out what people with disabilities can't do but what they can.
"Children need to learn that just because a child may be physically impaired does not mean he's mentally impaired," says Jacqueline Lambert-Kupstas, mom of a boy with kyphosis, a spinal deformity. "These children understand what's going on around them." Don't allow jokes or bullying. Kids with special needs are more likely to be bullied and abused in every way – they're just easier targets. If you hear your child or her friends referring to another kid or adult as "dumb" or "retarded," explain just how much those words hurt. Teach her to apologize when she has hurt another child's feelings.The original article appears here: https://www.babycenter.com/0_how-to-talk-to-your-child-about-disabilities-ages-5-to-8_3657045.bc By Ziba Kashef