Talking to Children about Children with Special...
As a special needs teacher, I have often been asked if they should talk to their typically developing kids about children with special needs that they may see in the community or at school. My answer is absolutely yes. Your child will most likely stare and may look a little frightened if they see someone that does not look like them. The worst response to this behavior in my opinion is, "It's not nice to stare." Instead, show your child that you feel comfortable by pointing out how pretty the girl's shoes are or how he and the other boy have the same baseball hat. Later, talk to your child about the boy or girl that you saw. "Remember today when we were in the store and saw the little girl with the pretty shoes? She was in a wheelchair because she needs help getting around..." The most important thing is for your child to realize that children with special needs like the same things that s/he likes. The more you can talk openly with your child, the more comfortable s/he will be with children who have special needs. Typically developing children can learn just as much if not more from children with special needs! And it's beautiful to watch happen!
I have 4 children and my oldest one is multiply disabled. Most adults will stare then avert their eyes and give us a wide berth. Children are so honest with their curiosity. I have overheard many a child ask their parent what was wrong with my son. The parents reply is to hush them up quickly and tell them not to stare. This always saddens me. It turns a child's natural curiosity about others into a sense of trepidation. They end up learning, that those with disabilities, should be avoided and not talked about. I don't know about other parents of disabled children, but if you approach me openly and honestly with your questions, I am more than happy to talk to you and your child about it. I want those who read this to understand that it isn't just the disabled children that end up being ostracized by the "don't look. It's rude." attitude. We parents are also left isolated. We want to educate others about our children. We want others to understand our lives and to be comfortable around us. We want others to know what is so amazing and special about our children. WE want to brag too. We ARE typical parents, after all.
This is a great reminder for us all...thank you!