With more and more inclusion in the classroom, children with disabilities such as Autism and Down Syndrome will be in the same classroom setting as those who do not have any form of disability. And while it’s important to ensure that your child gets everything that they need from government services, therapies, IEPs, teachers, etc, it’s important to consider what the other children in the classroom need. Not all of them are going to understand what makes your child different. They just know that they are different.
Ava L. Siegler, Ph.D. wrote in Child Magazine that when explaining disabilities to a child it’s important to be compassionate (that it’s hard to have a disability), communicative (explain as much as you can within reason), comprehensive (that’s it’s not the child’s fault they are disabled) and competent (just because they have a disability doesn’t mean they can’t do things).
Here are some other things to keep in mind when bringing out disability awareness with your children.
Kids with special needs are different but that’s OK! – Kids with down syndrome might have almond shaped eyes.
Kids with special needs are also the same as other kids! – All kids have eyes.
Kids with special needs or disabilities are not necessarily sick. – A disability is not something you can catch.
Kids with special needs shouldn’t be compared to normal kids – A better word to use would be typically rather than normally.
If your special needs child is eager to share with their classmates about their disability there are tons of fabulous resources online. Hopefully one of the side benefits from inclusion in the classroom will be to help spread disability awareness.