Teaching my littles to love and accept everyone just the way they are is something I strive to engrain in my children every day.  Because I truly believe that the world would be a much better place if we all treated each other with kindness and respect, which is why I'm really excited about the guest post I have for you today! 

I've teamed up with Salt Lake Social Security Disability Lawyers at Summit Disability Law Group to share 5 easy ways to teach your children about disabilities and I think you are going to love it!

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5 Easy Ways to Teach your Children about Disabilities

teach your children about disabilities

disability awareness: how to teach your children about disabilities

Teaching Your Children About Disabilities

Chances are your child has or will have a peer with disabilities. Some of the disabilities will be obvious like a child that uses a wheelchair while other peers will have less obvious disabilities like autism. Children are naturally curious and it can be difficult for them to understand why their classmate looks or behaves the way they do. This can be a sensitive subject. Many parents don’t feel they have the best answer for their children. For this reason, we reached out to as many family and child therapists as we could find and asked them to share their best advice for teaching children about disabilities.

Talk to your kids about special needs

Teach your children that it’s okay to have questions and if they have them they can come to you.  Aundrea M. Peaslee of Meridian Counseling Center said, “Talking with kids about putting others first and kindness needs to be something that is ongoing and is important when it comes to people with special needs. I would encourage parents to say things like, ‘Did you see the man in the wheelchair in the grocery store? What did you think about him? Do you have any questions about him?’ Make is safe for them to process and ask questions.”

Help your child rethink the term “disability”

Tonya Miller of Swinton Counseling said, “Replace [disability] with the idea of being ‘differently abled.’ For example, an individual who uses a white cane to help them navigate the unseen world around them may not have the ability to receive as much visual input as others. But could you close your eyes and get around safely using a cane to guide you? Could you be as aware of sounds, smells, and textures as a non-seeing person is? My answer to these questions is ‘No, I could not!’ Our culture has trained us to see deficits where, in fact, multiple strengths have developed. Coach your kids in seeing attributes in others, instead of pathologizing differences.”

Expose your child to people with disabilities

Megan Rigdon of Sunny Day Counseling said, “[My] recommendation would be to expose your children to other individuals with disabilities. By spending time with an individual who has autism or in a wheelchair, you begin to see them as the person they are, and not as the disability. One mother of a child with a disability shared with me that it only takes her a few seconds to know if someone has been around a person with a disability because she can tell by the way they interact with her child. Allow your children to get to know people with disabilities so it won’t be a novice thing, but rather something totally normal in their daily schemas.”

Encourage Friendships

Natalie West of Children’s Home Society said, “The best advice I can give, is that every child wants friends, love, and happiness.  This is despite any disability.  Also, tell your children this and to try to think of this, with every child that has a disability, and more importantly to spread the word.  Attitudes can be contagious, even good ones.”  Lori Schade of Compassionate Connections Counseling shared the following, “If possible, help children invite people over... My teenage daughter and her friends purposely asked disabled children to dances, knowing they might be overlooked.”

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With the spirit of Christmas thick in the air, now is a great time to go over this topic with children.  Hope this month is filled with lots of love and service for you and your littles!

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