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6 Tips to Talk to Your Kids About Disabilities

by Lindsay Hutton

Whether it's a classmate who is on the autism spectrum or a loved one with muscular dystrophy, your child probably has someone in her life with a disability that she might have questions about. No matter what the situation, it's important to be prepared and to address your child's curiosity about disabilities as openly and honestly as you can. The following tips can help you be prepared to talk to your child about people with disabilities when she comes to you for answers.

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Young happy boy in wheelchair

It's OK to Notice


Kids, especially young ones, are naturally curious, so when they see someone with a disability, their first instinct is to ask about it. If you see your child staring at someone with a disability, take the lead and start a conversation, but avoid a detailed explanation or a lot of emotion when explaining it. A short and matter-of-fact description will answer your child's questions while showing her that the person has nothing to be ashamed of.

For example, if you see a child with muscular dystrophy in a wheelchair, you can say to your child, "I see you looking at that little girl in the wheelchair, and you might be wondering why she needs it. Some people's muscles work a little differently, and her wheelchair helps her move around, just like your legs help you."

Try to keep your explanations positive. For example, explain that hearing aids help others hear and wheelchairs help others move around, instead of using a negative connotation (he can't hear, she can't walk, etc.)

Next: Use Respectful Terminology

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