Ducky Diaries: It is okay to say "Different".

Saturday, August 19, 2017

It is okay to say "Different".

 A few days ago I took the kids to their favorite place in the whole world.... McDonald's. I had promised them all week and finally the day had arrived.  As we were walking and rolling up to the doors, both kids shrieking in excitement about Happy Meals and guessing what toys they would get when I heard it.

This scenario that unfolds pretty much the same each and every time, the only variant is the adults answer. 

Child: "What is wrong with him, why is he in a wheel chair?" 
Parent: "He's special so (momentary scramble of thought) he gets to ride in a super special chair!" 

Me: ............................

Dear parents, I want you to know, in all sincerity that "Different" "Disability" or the phrase "They HAVE special needs" are all okay things to say in a pinch. It is also okay (within reason and attention to what the family may be doing at that moment) to allow your child to come up and ask.

 Allow your kid  to ask questions like: "Why do you use a wheelchair ?" ,"Why do you use a walker?", "Why do you have those things on your legs?", "Why do you talk with your hands?", "Why do you have those things on your ears?", "Why do you use that computer to talk?", "Why are you spinning around?", "Why are you flapping your hands?", "Why do you have that tube in your belly/throat?"  

It is okay. Let them learn. Let them broaden their world view. Let them include my child. They are curious. Don't take that away.

The problem with overly cautious superficial "special" talk and avoidance is that you are inadvertently teaching your child that my child is 1. abstract  2. fairy tale . 
Both of which carry the connotation that my child is strange, unusual, rare. And not someone he\ she will encounter at the Zoo, community swimming pool, grocery store, local adaptability play park, school. 

As parents we need to do better, allow curiosity to turn into knowledge and potentially friendship.

As we progress as a society and are no longer institutionalizing individuals with disability we are realizing through research and adaptable school testing that physical disability does not always equate to intellectual disability. In fact, much of the time it does not, not even a little bit. Most of the time the disability in question actually does not hinder the persons intellectual ability at all. 

Meaning- yes they are alllllll there and yes the reason they are looking at you in that puzzling manner is because they are asking themselves WTF is wrong with you. 


Jokes aside,  by changing paths on how we teach our children about disability we are changing the way they view these members of the community. How they interact with them, how they learn with them. By leading them away from hearing "That child/person IS special (needs)" and instead replacing it with "That child/person HAS special needs or HAS a disability" we are giving them the ability to look past the disability. To look at the person. We are taking away the mystery.  

Our children are not broken toys, heroes, or anomalies, they are people. Little kids who hear what you say, just as yours is hearing you, so make it count. 

Come up, say hi. Allow us to say hi. Educate yourself. Be open with your children. There are literally millions of people on this earth with some form of a disability. That is not a small number.  

And if all else fails- type a few search words into Google. You're bound to come up with something.

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