TOPIC / Little Kids

How to explain that some people have special needs to your child

Have you been out and about with your young child and seen people coping with special needs? I have and with a very vocal little girl, I have often been concerned that she may say something inappropriate in front of this person which may embarrass them or make them sad.  For this very reason, I never turn her away. I choose to encourage my children to accept everyone, no matter their differences.

In truth, we are all different. Whether it is our hair colour, our height, our gender or our language. The difference doesn’t just stop there, my sister is an amazing singer, while I can not hold a tune. I was always better at sports while she preferred the sidelines, some of us are able-bodied and some of us have bodies that don’t work as well as we would like. We may have been born this way, or it may be the result of an illness or accident.

It is important to teach our children to embrace those of us with special needs, just as we would any other difference.

Wave, say hello and acknowledge those around us who are different. Have a sensitive conversation with your children and explain openly that some people with special needs may express themselves differently. Explain that some people can not hear and some can not see and that some people were made differently.

Speak with sensitivity

Take care in how you describe people with disabilities. Avoid outdated and derogatory terms. I like to structure my sentences in a way that does not pigeonhole that person and their disability. As an example instead of saying  “the autistic child”, I might say “the child with Autism”. I also like to point out something else that’s nice about them, such as “he looks like her would be a great runner” or “she has such pretty hair, doesn’t she”.

Disabilities are more common than you may think. In 2013–14, the number of children and youth ages 3–21 receiving special education services was 6.5 million, or about 13 per cent of all public school students. Among students receiving special education services, 35 per cent had specific learning disabilities.

Encourage your children to become friends with children with special needs because every child has feelings and needs friends.

If you would like to donate and assist children with disabilities

Please contact the Disabled Children’s Foundation  “Helping to provide the where-with-all to ensure children with disabilities and their families around Australia have the same opportunities as all people to enjoy benefits of participation in the community”. The Aussie Kidz Charity helps disabled and underprivileged children by providing them with funding for equipment and services so they can live a better life.


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