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what do kids see? - Good article about kids and disability

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  • what do kids see? - Good article about kids and disability

    What Do Kids See?


    In a public setting, let's say a mall or a park, a child might see a person who is in a wheelchair or scooter. What does that child really see?

    Often the parent steers their child away. It's not polite to stare. Stay out of the way. Leave them alone.

    It's almost as if the child sees something they're not supposed to see. What is wrong with that person? Why can't I look? Will it happen to me?

    Ah, the innocence of children. Left on their own, the child sees something less sinister. Of course, the child whose sibling or parent has a disability has an entirely different attitude. However, the child with no personal reference base sees a host of possibilities and questions out of innocence and curiosity rather than preconceived notions:
    • <LI class=MsoNormal>Why do you get to ride around when I have to walk? <LI class=MsoNormal>How do you go to the bathroom? <LI class=MsoNormal>Does it hurt? <LI class=MsoNormal>Don't you get tired sitting all the time? <LI class=MsoNormal>How do you have fun?
    • How do you make it go?
    <IMG alt=""><IMG alt="">Children can also be quite thoughtful and empathetic. My granddaughter, just seven, offered to teach me to walk - "It's not hard," she said. And my grandson said I should just try, and I could lean on him if I was afraid I would fall.



    Our children need to learn that wheelers -- and all people with disabilities -- are just ordinary people. There may be some who want to be left alone or are on a schedule. There are some, however, who have time and are willing to answer questions and share experiences -- just like uprights* (*A person who can stand and move in an upright position).

    Surely there are ways to teach our next generation about disability without depending on a chance encounter. Two excellent web sites are below:

    Kids' Quest is a great site to help better understand life with a disability in the easy format of a quest for many types of disabilities. The quest takes this opportunity to enhance Internet skills and learn at the same time. This is my favorite so far.

    Mormon Chic has a good article trying to bring children a step closer to understanding disabilities. Along the sidebar are tips for use when encountering a disabled person such as:
    • <LI class=MsoNormal>Don't pet the canine companion <LI class=MsoNormal>Try to get on the same eye-level as a wheeler
    • Treat a person with a disability the way you like to be treated
    Sounds like good advice to me.

    These are only a couple of good examples. There are blogs, books and school programs demonstrating to kids that people with disabilities are actually people just like them -- a lesson we could all learn.

    Hannah McFadden, 4, attending the dedication of a statue showing Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his wheelchair he used as President, summed it up: "It means people on crutches and in a wheelchair can do anything."


    From http://community.disaboom.com/commun...-kids-see.aspx
    Emily, C-8 sensory incomplete mom to a 8 year old and a preschooler. TEN! years post.

  • #2
    Cute!

    I was in a dr's office and started a conversation w/ two sisters(they were really young) as I could tell they were curious.
    We eventually got on the subject of ages. I guessed their ages and they guessed my father-in-laws @ 30(wrong of course) ,then it was my turn.
    "You must be really old, only old people use wheelchairs"
    I found it to be hilarious. It's amazing what little minds think!

    Emi2, do you volunteer @ your daughters school ?
    I've been contemplating it for awhile although I don't have kids,just haven't.

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    • #3
      I work at a day care center one thing I've learned is that they're not afraid to ask anything and they are brutally honest...

      Comment


      • #4
        violet isn't in school yet, but I will definitely volunteer when she is.
        Emily, C-8 sensory incomplete mom to a 8 year old and a preschooler. TEN! years post.

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        • #5
          I spoke to the entire first grade last week. I do one class at a time. It is a lot of fun. I try to get out of my chair and let each of them push around a little. They say really funny things. One asked if someone held my legs could I do a handstand.
          If you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.


          Sometimes it is easier to widen doors than it is to open minds.

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          • #6
            I was recently at a family gathering and my cousin friend little boy was watching my father drive my son around (19 months) this little kid was running around after my dad, and when my father stopped the boy goes can you go any faster and tried pushing his around. (my father is in a motorized chair). It's wonderful to see a child so inocent who does not think what's wrong with this person. I was laughing cause here the little boy goes to my dad go faster and the adults are going boy that goes fast...

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            • #7
              I think in a way us Canadians have it a bit easier because we have two disabled people who are national icons. Rick Hansen & Terry Fox. The kids understand its not cool to stare or ask questions. The nearly dead on the other hand......

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              • #8
                [quote=quad79]Cute!

                I was in a dr's office and started a conversation w/ two sisters(they were really young) as I could tell they were curious.
                We eventually got on the subject of ages. I guessed their ages and they guessed my father-in-laws @ 30(wrong of course) ,then it was my turn.
                "You must be really old, only old people use wheelchairs"
                I found it to be hilarious. It's amazing what little minds think!

                I've had the same thing happen with me. Only, it was when I was at our public library. It was a little boy about 4 or 5, and he said to me, "I know why you use a wheelchair." I played along and said, "Why do you think?" He replied without hesitating, "Because you're so old!!!" His mom, and the children's librarian who happened to overhear him, just about fell over laughing. It made me laugh too. I'm only soon-to-be 27 years old, but I don't look old yet!!

                Samantha

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                • #9
                  I love talking with kids and teaching them about people with disabilities. I've had a few chances to speak at grade schools, but would like more opportunity.
                  C2/3 quad since February 20, 1985.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by canuck
                    The kids understand its not cool to stare or ask questions.
                    Why isn't it OK to ask questions? Especially when it's kids that are the ones asking? How else will people learn anything?

                    C.

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                    • #11
                      Just wait until you've been asked questions for 30 odd years. I just think its kind of ignorant to go up to somebody you don't know & the first words out of you mouth are "what's wrong with you"

                      Would you ask a obese person "why are you fat" as the very first thing you say to them?

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                      • #12
                        There was a little girl with her mother I saw while waiting for the elevator. The girl briefly started at me and my chair, with a bit of curiosity in her face. Immediately, the mother tugged at her to snatch the girl away from looking at my direction. This type of reaction by parents teach kids an understanding that it is not cool to stare or ask questions. It may also instill in those children, that that person in a chair is something to avoid, maybe having something wrong and too different than 'regular' people to acknowledge and recognize, even associate with.

                        There were a couple young boys riding their bikes down the sidewalk ahead of their father, toward me one summer. One boy suddenly stopped his bike in front of me to ask - "what happened to you?". I just replied, I had a car accident... The boy nonchalantly replied with an "oh" and a sort of half satisfied look, and took off riding again. The father came up soon thereafter, embarrassed and profusely apologizing for the incident and his son. I smiled and assured him it was ok. I found it kinda cute and funny.

                        Recently, outside an ice-cream shoppe, while waiting at one of the sidewalk tables, a father and his little girl (maybe less than 2 yo) were strolling by. Little girl (who was already taking only tiny steps) got distracted by my chair and kept turning her head to look, very curious and seeming a bit confused. Father had a hard time keeping her coming along, as she kept turning her little body. She then said in that adorable cute baby-talk - "why... chai-aw"? OMG, she was so cute! I just simply said, "Oh... I got hurt". She was still unsure, as father then repeated that "she got hurt" that's why is in a chair, explaining and trying to help her understand (and probably re-direct her focus), as he was trying to get her to follow... Father and I smiled through the whole exchange, and they walked away. Such a great moment.

                        Three different reactions and responses from parents with their children.

                        Children are mostly unassuming. To teach children that asking questions is bad or offensive and to suppress curiosity, rather than showing them HOW to ask questions appropriately and with courtesy or respect (if they do ask in inappropriate ways), leaves them with nothing but assumptions; assumptions which will guide them into adulthood and their future engagement with others (with disabilities).
                        Last edited by chick; 10-20-2007, 12:59 AM.

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                        • #13
                          I guess I'm at the point where I don't think I need to be a rolling public service announcement for spinal cord damage. Besides Spina Bifida isn't the easiest thing to explain to the types that ask the "what happened" question as the first thing out of their mouth. Once again would be considered acceptable to go up to a obese person & ask them "why are you fat"

                          Maybe its a Canadian thing, I don't know.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by canuck
                            Just wait until you've been asked questions for 30 odd years.
                            Sorry, but no. I doubt that another 10 yrs of this is going to change my opinion much.

                            I just think its kind of ignorant to go up to somebody you don't know & the first words out of you mouth are "what's wrong with you"
                            We were talking about kids asking questions in general. Nobody said anything as specifically rude as you are now suggesting. However, if a child asked me that question, I would not be offended and I would answer. I appreciate that kids tend to be very straight forward. They don't beat around the bush or waste time hemming and hawing when the truth is, all they are looking for is to learn about something new.

                            Would you ask a obese person "why are you fat" as the very first thing you say to them?
                            Nope, but if I was chatting with someone who had a cast on their arm, I'm pretty sure that I would eventually get around to asking them what happened.

                            I guess I'm at the point where I don't think I need to be a rolling public service announcement for spinal cord damage.
                            I understand it gets tiresome after a while, but overall, I disagree with your stance on this. I have long figured that if answering a few questions helps to conquer ignorance and make life easier for myself and others with disabilities, then it is totally worth my time.

                            Besides Spina Bifida isn't the easiest thing to explain to the types that ask the "what happened" question as the first thing out of their mouth.
                            Actually, I think it would be quite simple to explain. You were born with damage to your spinal cord, so you are paralyzed from the waist (or wherever) down. Not much different than telling people that one has broken their back and suffers similar damage.

                            C.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by chick
                              Children are mostly unassuming. To teach children that asking questions is bad or offensive and to suppress curiosity, rather than showing them HOW to ask questions appropriately and with courtesy or respect (if they do ask in inappropriate ways), leaves them with nothing but assumptions; assumptions which will guide them into adulthood and their future engagement with others (with disabilities).
                              Indeed. Your entire post shows a wonderful perspective on this topic.

                              C.

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