Talking with kids about disabilities

three preschool age kids - two girls and one boy - sit on the carpet.  The boy has the facial characteristics of Downs Syndrome.  One girl has her hand raised.
Kids are naturally curious about the world around them. They notice differences in people, because there are differences.  

Visible differences, like how we look, skin color, how we dress, and how we get around.  

And less visible differences, like how we learn, how we interact with one another, and how we experience the world.

Responding to kids’ observations about people with disabilities and visible illnesses can be hard for parents and caregivers who are not sure how, or are afraid they will say something wrong.   

Let’s remember that some of us are different, and experience the world differently, than others. And that’s not a bad thing! In fact, it’s a beautiful thing. Talking about it can be hard, but it’s important!  

My kids' cousin has autism. I tell my kids about how his brain works differently and experiences the world differently than our brains do.  We read books with characters who have autism and talk about them together. Their cousin's mother, my sister-in-law, shared a post on Facebook written by staff at the EDAM Center for Special Education in the Philippines.  This part really stuck with me, and I hope it sticks with you, too.

For all the children who struggle every day to succeed in a world that does not recognize their gifts and talents, and for those who are walking beside them, please let this be a gentle reminder to be kind and accepting of all people.

Recognize that the "playing field" is not always a level surface.

Children who learn differently are not weird. They are merely gifted in ways that our society does not value enough. Yet they want what everyone else wants: To be accepted!!

At the library, we strive to celebrate differences and find common ground in kindness and acceptance.  We want to support you in being comfortable talking to your kids about differences from an early age, and to keep up the conversations as they get older. Below are some resources that may help.  

This post is part of our “Talking with kids” series, as featured in our monthly Family Newsletter.  Reach out to us at learning@multcolib.org if you need more support or have questions. We’re here for you!


 

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