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View Full Version : How to explain disABILITIES to a sheltered 7 y.o.


snowman
06-21-2000, 11:52 AM
I am taking my nephew to WDW for the 1st time in November, he will be turning 7. He has lived a fairly sheltered life (small town Maine) and has
had almost zero exposure to anybody that he might consider "different", his mother has seizures since a car accident a year ago, that is the closest he comes to exposure. I need suggestions on how to approach the subject and what to tell him when he asks why this child or that adult is in a wheelchair, etc.

I don't want to offend anybody, which is why I asked a moderator before I post my question. I don't even know the current "pc" words or explainations to use.

I always try to answer his questions as honestly as I can. I want to be as prepared as 1 can be when it comes to questions from children. I have the same concerns in regards to people from cultures different than our own, but have found a book of children from around the world that will help there.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Michelle


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ASMo 99
DxL Nov 11-17, 2000

teri
06-21-2000, 01:05 PM
hang out here for a bit and you will have plenty of ideas!
Search this board using the keywords 'staring' and you will come up with some insights. Also, the recent 'biggest complaint' post, and the wheelchair posts... come back for questions! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Piper
06-21-2000, 02:12 PM
I talk to my "normal" students at the beginning of every year. They are only 4 years old and all of them are either low income or speak another language. I team teach with the teacher for the Preschool program for children with disabilities. Although we know who we will have in our class at the beginning of the year, we have no clue who will join us during the course of it ( there are PPCD screenings monthly.) I want my students to be accepting of every child.

I ask them if they know someone who wears glasses. Usually all of them have family members who do. I tell them that that person's eyes don't work just right and the glasses help them see better. I go on to say that sometimes people can't see at all. We talk about hearing disabilities, speech difficulties, and mobility impairment (it helps with that one that I use a forearm crutch--so we talk about me.)

We go on to talk about children sucking their thumb or snuggling a blanket or toy because it makes them feel better. That leads to talking about stimming behaviors. I then focus on what the children have in common: how they like to play and be friends, and how they are not "dumb" or "stupid" because they have a disability.

I answer childrens questions as simply and truthfully as possible--then I ask if that was what they wanted to know. Sometimes children don't phrase questions well or we may not give the information they want.

I hope I have given you some ideas. Don't be afraid to be honest and open. But above all, be sure of your attitude. Children pick up on how others think and feel. If you are uncomfortable, the child will know.

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Wheelsie
06-21-2000, 08:48 PM
I would like to ask that everyone help this young lady out please.....I've made her aware of all the wonderful people we have here and the very intutive answers she'll get from everyone here..... so lets all give her hand...whether it be here in this post or in a personal email!! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

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snowman
06-22-2000, 09:55 AM
I just wanted to say thank you for the suggestions so far. I am turning them into a word document for easy reference.

I'll have Carl for the next week, so I'll have a chance to put some of the suggestions into use right away.

Thanks again.

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ASMo 99
DxL Nov 11-17, 2000

Chuck S
06-22-2000, 01:49 PM
I really like Piper's idea to start with something simple, like the glasses, that a child could understand. I'd think it would be a little easier for your nephew to understand, assuming he remembers his Mom having seizures. If he could grasp that it was a medical problem due to an accident, you could explain that a lot of people have different kinds of accidents, and they can cause all types of disabilities. If he asks a question, answer it as honestly as you can, so that he can understand.

Sometimes children understand and comprehend a lot more than we adults think they can. Just make him aware that there are lot of different kinds of people in the world, and we all love Disney World /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Chuck
DVC '92 (OKW)
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Michigan
06-22-2000, 02:50 PM
There are children's books showing children with disabilities that show how much they have in common with children that don't have disabilities. You can buy them at Barnes and Noble or try your local library.

Explain to him that wheelchairs are not bikes or toys but are like a really fast set of legs.

Piper
06-22-2000, 03:08 PM
That reminded me of a book my kids love. It is by Mercer Mayer and is called something like A Very Special Critter. It is very inexpensive--only a dollar or two and very easy for children to understand. Little Critter has a new critter in his class who is in a wheelchair. It is a great book--very positive, but truthful.

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SueOKW
06-22-2000, 05:13 PM
We are used to being stared at - especially by kids in your nephew's age group. It won't hurt our feelings. (at least not ours!!! maybe others.) I hope some adult makes eye contact with your son, and smiles at him -if he is staring at either the disabled adult or child.

I wouldn't even mind if he asked us a question. But it is important for him to understand that the person he may be asking about can probably hear, but may not be able to talk. (That's our case.)

This will be a good experience for all of you - I do hope you enjoy your trip. There are soooo many different people at WDW - and soooo many ways to be happy and make other people happy. Like it was said above, read some of the old posts on this board. You will be amazed! and thanks for your concern, and for asking.

Sue

SueM in MN
06-22-2000, 06:36 PM
You got some really good advice already. Here are some books that I would recommend:
A Very Special Critter by Mercer Mayer: Theres a new critter in a wheelchair and at first no one wants to be friends.
Arnie and the New Kid by Nancy Carlson: Another on e about a new kid in a wheelchair that no one wants to make friends with. Then Arnie breaks his leg and finds out what its like to use a wheelchair.
My Buddy by by Audrey Osofsky, Ted Rand (illus.): This one is about a boy who uses a wheelchair and has a helper dog.
We Can Do It! by Laura Dwight: I think this one is out of print. Its a photo book with few words and lots of pictures. There is a girl with spina bifida (one for Wheelsie), a boy with down syndrome, a girl and boy with CP and a girl who is blind.The pictured kids appear to range from 3 yrs to about 6. How It Feels to Live With a Physical Disability by Jill Krementz: This book is out of print, but you may find it in the library. Its for older kids and has photos and stories in the kids own words. There is a boy who is paralyzed on one side after a stroke, a girl who is blind, a boy who is a dwarf, a girl who is paralyzed because of an accident, a boy with cerebral palsy, a girl who is a runner with one artificial leg and many more. P

[This message was edited by SueM in MN on 06-22-00 at 10:22 PM.]

Piper
06-23-2000, 04:04 PM
Sue, i can give a double endorsement to those books. I have used all of them except "How It Feels To Live With A Physical Disability". Children enjoy them and relate well to the children in the books.

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SueM in MN
06-23-2000, 07:56 PM
I really like all those books that I listed. we have most of them and have gotten the rest from the library.
The one called "How it feels to live with a physical disability" is very good, but really for older kids. It would be a good resource book for an adult to read because it tells, in the kids own words, how it feels. It is a "chapter book" and is maybe 5th or 6th grade level. it tells about kids doing normal things most kids do, but also adventurous things like skiing and track and field.¶

SueM in MN
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Michigan
06-24-2000, 09:28 AM
There's another really good book called Princess Pooh it's about a sister that thinks her sister in a wheelchair gets everything just because she is in a chair so she decides to take the chair for a day and finds out it's a lot harder then she thought.

[This message was edited by Michigan on 06-24-00 at 02:56 PM.]

snowman
06-26-2000, 04:18 AM
I'll be looking for the aforementioned books this week. They sound perfect.

I have since been presented with the perfect opportunity to talk w/ him about different abilities. He has worn glasses since he was an infant and had eye surgery at 15 months old. We were just told that he will have to have one eye patched for 5 hours a day because he isn't using the other eye at all. He's not real keen on the idea. But, there is an opening to talk about others.

Thanks again for all the help. Any specific tips on the staring?

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ASMo 99
DxL Nov 11-17, 2000

SueM in MN
06-26-2000, 06:30 AM
Good luck to you. If this link works, you can follow it to a string of posts about staring and how to deal with it.
http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=tpc&s=40009993&f=38009194&m=433090001


SueM in MN
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teri
01-19-2001, 10:28 PM
bump!

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lisapooh
01-20-2001, 07:21 PM
We have kids with many disabilities at my school but I am often asked why I use a cane in school and a wheelchair on field trips. I answer honestly that my legs don't always work right and these help me by allowing me do the things that everyone else does.
Also I do allow them to touch my canes and wheelchair and see how they work. With the babies (3-4yo) I also may give them a ride.
I'm honest. I get some teasing from the deaf kids but they are my helpers and defenders so I don't mind. And I can't always tease back because I'm hard of hearing too.

Pooh