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Explaining SCI to a 3 y/o

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    3 yr old

    My 3 yr old boy looks at me one day and says, "Someday, I'm going to grow up big and strong, just like Daddy! And be in a wheelchair!" This motivated me to stand more with a modified walker and soon my son was saying, "Someday, I'm going to grow up big and tall, just like Daddy!

    The first time he saw me standing, he stared at my feet with bulging eyes and scanned up till his mouth dropped open. He was surprised, amaized. I felt adequate! But, what he sees me doing has alot more to do with what he thinks of me than how I look.

    I like to make things an fix things, so, to hear the kids say to Mommy, when she needs help, "Daddy can help us with this!" This is music to my ears!



      hah pat, ur son sounds like a great kid, so does everyone elses as well.

      I remember when i was in my wheelchair rolling around in the mall and alittle boy said, Cool daddy i want a bike like that. But then again, my x-girlfriends sister adored me but when she saw me in the wheelchair she ran away and asked who i was, it was pretty depressing. Its interesting how younger people respond to the wheelchair.

      Or the greatest thing was when I scared my little cuz becuase he hadn't seen me in the wheelchair and my grandma promptly responded, "don't be afraid, he's only a crippled boy in a wheelchair." My mouth dropped and i told my grandma thanks for breaking it easy hah.
      C7/C8, T1 incomplete;

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        Thanks Wise.


          I dont have kids but have been trying to deal with this issue with my nephews and nieces. They come to visit me in rehab and its always hard because they want me to play with them and hug them and I cant. But Dr Young is right. They seem to be dealing with this better the adults in my life. They ask questions without shame and are open about how my chair or vent makes them feel. They seemed shy and scared at first and I wasn't sure if they should keep coming to the hospital. But apparently they are okay with it and they always cheer me up when they visit They are all too young to fully understand all this yet so I worry that things might change when they get older and then maybe they wont be so accepting of the explanation or of me.
          Last edited by orangejello; 31 Jul 2006, 7:07 PM.


            Originally posted by orangejello
            They are all too young to fully understand all this yet so I worry that things might change when they get older and then maybe they wont be so accepting of the explanation or of me.
            Won't happen. My neice was 1 and my nephew hadn't been born yet. Amazing for their capability to see the real person and not the metal or rubber attached to our asses. lol They are now 21 and 20. The significant others seem to be won over by whatever my niece/nephew tells them about 'Aunt Jenny' as well. Hopefully no worries!
            Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

            T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12


              I can't add much to all the great advice given already. I agree that I think children of an SCI parent are more likely to grow up with an appreciation of diversity etc. You're all raising some incredible children.

              I had a cute story to share though. I was at my sister's place on Sunday playing with my 4-year-old niece Jennifer. We were discussing Grandma, and I tried explaining to Jennifer that Grandma was my mommy and her mother's mommy. This meant that Jennifer's mommy and I were brother and sister. Jennifer looked at me in disbelief and said "don't be silly, mommy's not in a wheelchair!" Can't fault her logic.

              Have you ever seen a human heart? It looks like a fist wrapped in blood! Larry in 'Closer', a play by Partick Marber


                I don't mind when I see kids staring. I know I'm not the norm and they are just curious as to why that guy is sitting and that thing in his neck.

                I don't have any kids, or a girlfriend, but hope to change that someday. My cousin, who is 9 years younger than I, was always at our house when we were growing up. She never directly asked me why I couldn't move, but it never bothered her. Now she's 15 and into doing social things, but still never minds helping me. Her older brother, five years younger than me, was caught using a wooden spoon once to play with his toy tractors when he was little. He was just doing it like cousin Joel, he plays with a stick in his mouth.
                C2/3 quad since February 20, 1985.



                  My twins were almost 4 when my spinal cord injury happened. I am able to walk with a cane now, but am still unable to do a lot of things. I explained to them about spinal cord injuries...where the spinal cord is, that the brain sends messages to the body parts, but they get stuck in my spinal cord, so my legs can't hear my brain telling them to move, etc., trying to be as simplistic as possible. I had them lay on the bed and held their legs down with my arms and had them try to move their legs to get an idea of what it felt like. As they have gotten older I have explained in more detail about spinal cord injuries. It has been just over 3 years and this is "normal" to them now. They still come up with questions like why I can't be outside when it's hot for too long, etc. - I just little by little tell them more. I don't think my boys realize that most girls don't use "pee pee sticks" to go to the bathroom!

                  Whenever I can, I have them around others with spinal cord injuries to show them that I'm not the only one and that different people are affected in different ways, and that people in wheelchairs can still do a lot of things and live normal lives. I also let them know that although I don't have to use my wheelchair right now there may come a time when I will have to go back to using it. We talked quite a bit about Christopher Reeve and also talk about the different ways people can get a spinal cord injury.

                  Violet sounds like one smart little girl and is just trying to understand what's going on. It will take a long time before she does fully understand, of course - I'm sure it has even taken us, as adults, a long time to understand what was happening to our own bodies! There is a book I have heard about - Dewey Do It Helps Owl Fly Again - although I have never read it, it may help her. Here is the website ...
                  Also, a portion of the proceeds go to The Christopher Reeve Foundation.

                  I wonder how they explain spinal cord injuries to small children who have them. Maybe you could talk to a doctor or physical therapist who works with children to get some ideas.

                  Just know that Violet will come to see it as normal and will take everything in stride just like my boys have. One good thing that has come out of this is that my boys are very comfortable around people in wheelchairs and some others who have disabilities. Not to mention, they understand at a very early age more about how their bodies work than most adults do!

                  Good luck with everything!
                  C5-C7 Walking Quad - Very Incomplete
                  Aug '03


                    is hard for adults and some doctors to understand what sci means ,a little angel can understand are blessed to have such an angel.
                    is hard ,but never give have an angel to rise.


                      Originally posted by lynnifer
                      One day a friend gave me a different perspective though .. maybe they wonder why such a good looking gal is in a wheelchair, just maybe they're admiring you.
                      It's easy to tell the difference between the ones who are checking out the cute chick and the ones that are staring at you like you're a bug on a slide. Just stick your tongue out at the latter. I've found that is quite effective in shocking people into recognizing your humanity.