Throughout my whole life I have always been around children. That might sound a little creepy, but no, what I mean is being around my friend’s children, family and with friends working in certain areas I see children a lot. I love it though because as they grow up, I see how understanding and accepting they are about my disability. They don’t see the wheelchair, they see me as just Claire.
Before I start this blog post I would like to state that these are my own personal opinions and I understand that some people would feel differently.
Allow children to ask questions.
Children are inquisitive, and they will ask the most random questions. I think the best questions are the random questions though and I love answering them all. I try to be as honest with children as possible when I’m asked something. My aim for ‘A Journey In My Wheels’ is to spread disability and accessibility awareness wherever I go, and what better to do that than to answer questions.
You may remember last year I visited the primary school that my friend was a teacher at to speak to the pupils about disabilities. I got of random questions during that visit and I shared them in my blog post ‘Teaching The Future‘, including getting asked where did I get my wheels?
Do not get angry/annoyed with children for staring.
We all have a habit of people watching, I’m guilty of doing it myself. I get really annoyed though when adults stare at me for longer than 20 seconds, especially when they go out of there way to stare at me by turning around after they’ve walked past me. With children though I don’t mind, most of them aren’t doing it out of rudeness, but interest. I usually make a funny face or stick out my tongue if a child stares. When I’ve been out and about I have heard some children get told off for staring or even sometime shouted at. Therefore if you find your child staring, instead of shouting at them, explain. Which leads to my next tip.
Be honest and explain to children the best you can.
I’ve had times when I’ve heard children ask “what is wrong with her”, “why is she in a chair” or anything else you can imagine, to someone they are with. The response I usually hear though is, “never mind”. This is not the best response to have I feel because children then don’t understand and might think disability is a bad thing.
There was one time a little boy was scaring at me and a lady that was with him knelt down and explained my wheelchair was just like his grandads. I loved this because even though he didn’t say anything afterwards, you could tell he understood.
If possible surround children with disabilities.
I took ages to name this tip because everything I was saying sounded strange. What I’m trying to say here is that being around disabilities, not just physical, makes people more aware of everything. Since meeting one of my helpers children he continuously points out how it’s not fair that I can’t visit places because there’s a step.
I believe that being around disabilities makes everyone understand more and in turn paves the way for a more inclusive future.
Do not panic, think about how you would want to be treated.
We’re all human and 9 times out of 10 I feel we all want to be treated nicely, so whatever situation you find yourself in think about what I have said.
I really hope this helped give you more of an insight into how to handle different situations that may arise when children encounter someone with a disability.