How to talk to children about disabilities

There are lot's of different types of disabilities in all ages throughout life so for younger children it can become confusing to know why children have disabilities and what they mean so it's a good idea to sit down and talk to children about this.

It's best not to try and convince your child that someone with a disability is the same as they are. The best way is to acknowledge that they are different but just because they are different it doesn't make that person odd or bad. 

Educate your children about different disabilities and how anyone can have a disability, not all are visible.

There is nothing wrong with people who have disabilities and sometimes children assume that someone with a physical disability may also struggle to communicate which is not the case. 

Learning about different disabilities can be great for children to understand how others with disabilities may be, for example a child with autism, although not technically a disability but a learning disability - they may not look disabled but they will struggle to socialise with others in different situations which can seem odd to others who don't understand autism. 

Some points to make when speaking to children about disability:

  • Some people are born with disabilities and some are not
  • People with disabilities aren't sick, explain to your child that they cannot catch a disibility from another
  • There is nothing wrong with people with disabilities 
  • A physical disability doesnt mean someone has a cognitive disability and vice versa
  • Point out similarities, make sure you're not sending the message that people with disabilities are completely different

The wider range of people your child meets and mixes with, the more likely they are to understand and accept others around them and their differences. You can also choose tv programmes and child's books which show and talk about diversity.

Answering questions directly to keep things simple and honest, no need to overcomplicate things. Watch what you say and how you explain things, you don't want to use any negative words or old fashioned words for disabilities like 'handicapped'. 

Always teach respect, if a child is bullying someone with a disability it's best to explain to that child how name calling can hurt and upset others. If your child notices that someone has a disablity, this is the best time to start rhe conversation about disabilities.

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