Disability Awareness

March is Disability Awareness Month.

 

The question: How do I talk to my kids about understanding differences, specifically children with special needs?

 

The answer: I have tackled it head on. Discussions of differences come up in a multiracial family; it’s part of our lives. Aside from race, culture, and ethnicity, conversations include talk about special needs. You see, one of my kids has sensory integration disorder and another has learning disabilities. My kids’ needs impact their lives and ours.  We talk about ways to handle the behaviors and perceptions outside our home, because it takes all of us working together to keep it together.

A Welcome Home from Two Weeks in Spain

A Welcome Home from Two Weeks in Spain

 

 

Through time and a lot of therapy, we understand the triggers and how to cope at a moment’s notice. I stress that there is nothing wrong with my children; this is part of who they are. All of my kids are aware of and educated, at their age-appropriate level, about the special needs. Proper language, civility, compassion, patience and grace are expected at all times – and nothing less.

 

Parenting kids with special needs is rewarding, but it takes patience, honesty, and fortitude. The steps may be small and slow, but progress happens. I’m watching my kids blossom and my heart sings with joy over their accomplishments.

 

Leave me a comment – What do you think? How do you talk to your kids about disabilities and the importance of inclusion?

 

CVS has programs in place to support kids with disabilities. Check it out – CVS All Kids Can

 

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5 Comments

Filed under Disabilities, Family, Parenting

5 responses to “Disability Awareness

  1. Desiree Gruber

    Thank you for your blog. I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face knowing that there is another mom out there who has adopted and has so many of the same thoughts and concerns as me.

    We adopted our daughter from China 7 years ago. She has Essential Tremor Disorder, Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, and still struggles quite a bit with separation anxiety.

    I have always been very straightforward with Willow about her disability, really from a medical perspective. She loves to go to The Body exhibits that come to the science centers – cries if she can’t go. She walks right up to the exhibits on the brain and nervous system and wants to know everything she can about the area of her brain (cerebellum) that did not grow in all the way.

    I have taught her yoga since she was 4 to compliment all of her other therapies at the hospital, school and equine center. I have tried to help her understand in age appropriate ways over the years how she can help her body be stronger and how to be grounded in her body and love her body exactly as it is.

    She has asked me many times why she has these physical disabilities and none of the other children at school do. I am grateful that the public school she attended before we moved to a new state was designated as a center for vision impaired children. It allowed Willow to experience other children who also have challenges with disabilities.

    I have always told her that everyone has a disability in life that presents challenges for them. It can be mental, emotional, or physical and it may come later in life or you may be born with it. Of course the first thing she asks is what is my challenge or her dad’s challenge. I always respond with “which one would you like to talk about because there are plenty”.

    People often tell me “Willow is so lucky that you adopted her – what kind of life would she have had without you?” I always respond, WE are so lucky to have her in our lives. I was an aggressive and competitive person in Corporate America before she came along. She brought me to my knees, rubbed my face in humility, and opened my heart to unconditional love and tenderness. I will forever be grateful to my little Willow for being the greatest spiritual teacher in my life.

    • Hi Desiree,

      We ARE blessed. I love how you put it – how your daughter brought you to your knees and “opened” your soul. Mine have done the same, especially my daughter who has SPD. She humbles me because she lives her life with such grace and in the moment – what wonderful ongoing examples for me.

      Thank you for posting.

      J

  2. One of my kids has a special medical need and my husband works for an org. that supports disabled individuals–we encounter special needs kids often in our lives!

    My youngest likes to ask a lot of questions and I answer her honestly. I always tell her the children have feelings, wishes, hopes, etc. just like her, but may not have her physical or mental abilities. We then talk about what the kids do have to offer and how they are special, unique people. This seems to work and I think talking about this is crucial to helping kids become compassionate, caring citizens.

  3. This is a great post. I think it’s all in how we phrase things for our children — if we stay positive and teach our children that every individual is uniquely made and has gifts, no matter the physical or mental disability, then they will see people in a more positive light and be able to handle these situations better. Having a little guy (16 mos. old) with Down syndrome has been an enormous gift to all of us and those around us.

  4. Yesterday at McDonalds my kids encountered a little girl who was blind — at 18 months, she had a little white can that she used to toddle around and follow the other kids. She looked Indian and her parents were white, so I assume she was adopted.

    “She looks weird!” Sarah commented to me. Loudly. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the little girl’s parents tense up.

    “Oh, no. She’s beautiful — but her eyes don’t work.” I responded. “We all have special gifts, and special challenges. We must do our best to love each other, and help each other the best we can.

    “This little girl was born in a place where children can’t always get the kind of medical care they need, and her mommy and daddy adopted her and brought her here to America where she can get the help she needs. She is so BLESSED!”

    Talking with children about gifts and challenges, how we all have some of both, helps puts things in perspective I think … don’t you?

    Heidi Saxton
    Extraordinary Moms Network
    http://extraordinarymomsnetwork.wordpress.com

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