How To Teach Children to Embrace Peers with Special Needs
Back to school season is finally here, and many kids are packing their school bags as they prepare to head back to in-person learning. If you have a school-aged child, they will almost certainly encounter a classmate who has a disability. After all, in 2019, over 3 million children in the U.S. were living with some sort of disability—about 4.3% of the under-18 population.
Cerebral palsy is one of the most common types of disabilities among children, however, a disability is considered anything that causes difficulties with hearing, seeing, learning, concentrating, moving, walking, and more. It’s important that your child begins learning from a young age how to be inclusive of classmates with disabilities. We provide some tips below!
Teach Your Child Everyone Is Different
Disabilities or not, every single person is different and unique. That’s what makes each one of us special! Teach children to embrace these differences and find common ground with other children who may have disabilities. Maybe they have similar hobbies, interests, or favorite school subjects—whatever the thing is, it can show a commonality amongst people who may have different abilities.
You Don’t Have to Explain Every Detail
A great way for your child to learn about disabilities is through educational material, such as books or online content that discusses the topic in a friendly, easy-to-understand way. Every child is different, meaning that they all process information differently. They may get confused or overwhelmed if you go into too many details regarding disabilities. Remember that it’s okay not to explain everything all at once. Instead, allow your child to process the information in chunks.
Remind Your Child That Everyone Needs Friends
Even those who can’t communicate their thoughts, wishes, or emotions often still long for friends and to be accepted. As you talk to your child about peers with special needs or disabilities, remind them that everyone is human and deserves to feel part of a group. Additionally, just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean that they are completely limited or unable to participate in and enjoy sports, games, or other activities. Emphasize the importance of giving all classmates a chance to participate in activities.
Teach Patience and to Ask Questions
While it may take a little longer for a peer with special needs to learn or understand something, patience is a virtue and will go a long way toward helping your child build friendships. No two disabilities are exactly the same. Encourage your children to ask questions about what a certain condition or disability means and how it impacts the person. This way, they know how best to include them in activities, whether they need to be extra patient with someone, or whether the individual has certain boundaries that need to be respected.
Be a Continuous Learner Yourself
As a parent, you always want to lead by example. Kids will observe how you react to certain situations or people, so always ensure that you are following the tips above, too! If you know that there is a peer with special needs in your child’s class, spend time doing research about the condition so you can better prepare yourself to answer your child’s questions. You don’t have to be an expert on the subject—just try to always learn and be compassionate to others.
At The Law Firm of Michael H. Bereston, Inc., our Annapolis birth injury attorneys have been protecting the rights of injured children and their families for over 30 years. If your child suffered harm and consequently developed a disability due to a negligent doctor or other medical provider, know that we are here to advocate on your behalf and help your family build a brighter future.
Contact our firm at The Law Firm of Michael H. Bereston, Inc. to schedule a free consultation with head trial attorney, Michael Bereston. We are located in Annapolis, Maryland and also serve clients in Washington D.C. and nationwide on a case-by-case basis.