Kids come across many things each day that baffle them. Sometimes, they ask the most outrageous questions or speak about things that may make adults around them uncomfortable.
Meeting a person or child living with disability will often bring up questions as they can see that something is different, and they want to know why.
As a parent, you may be embarrassed when your child looks at a person living with disability and loudly asks, “what’s wrong with him?” Or ” Where did her legs go?”.
Of course, most parents know the right thing to do is answer their kids’ questions honestly. But they often cannot do it probably because it makes them uncomfortable or they don’t know how to go about it.
Here are some common questions that kids ask about disability and some answers you can give them.
1. What’s wrong with that man/woman?
When your child asks such a question, please understand that kids are puzzled when they see someone who looks different from other people. Instead of getting embarrassed, use that moment to teach your child a life lesson.
Start by clarifying that when people look different, it doesn’t mean something is wrong with them. Then go on to say that sometimes people are born that way or have accidents as children or adults that harm parts of their bodies resulting in disability.
Lastly, tell your child that it is always good to respect all kinds of people. You could then initiate a conversation with the disabled person in question and involve your child to demystify and educate about disability.
2. How does he do this and that?
When kids look at people with disabilities, they often wonder how they do things. So other common questions you will get about disability are ‘how’ questions.
For example, how does he feed himself, how does she write, how does he go to work? When kids ask such questions, they just want to know if disabled people do things like ordinary people.
To answer the question, you could tell your child that there are smart people who have made equipment that disabled people can use to do regular things. For example, they have electric wheelchairs that help them whiz around fast instead of walking on their feet.
Also, be quick to inform your child that disability does not stop people from doing regular things. If you can, show them examples of disabled people doing great things. It will make a difference to the way they perceive disability.
3. Who takes care of them?
When kids ask this question, they are wondering who takes care of the disabled person as they have a mom and dad that does this for them. They may feel concern for the person in question.
To answer, start by talking about the support that disabled people have in hospitals after their diagnosis. Tell them about exercises, medication, and therapies and the different healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses and therapists and who help them.
Talk about their family and friends and how they assist them on a day-to-day basis.
Lastly, speak about the support disabled people get from society through different organizations, support groups, social workers and even the government.
The idea is to show your child how supportive society is to people with disabilities and instill in them empathy.
These are just a few questions on disability you could get from your child and suggestions on how to answer them.
Once you honestly start speaking with your child about disability, they will grow up conscious of the rights of the disabled and champion them where possible. And that’s a great achievement for any parent, isn’t it?