When you’re in a wheelchair or have a visible disability/impairment, it can feel like you’re wheeling around in a goldfish bowl when you’re out in public; ‘all eyes are on you’. It has become very much the ‘norm’ for me whether that’s down to my age or because my surroundings have become so transparent over the past 17 years it’s become second nature to expect it.
The human need for curiosity is a natural path for anyone to take no matter what age especially when it comes to disabled people, but in children it is always very apparent they want to ask about the funny looking chair that has wheels and why i can’t walk. As an adult, Personally I think it’s rather adorable and always make it a point to say hello or smiling at the little curious Angels/monsters!
These curious little cuties are the future generations. They’re Constant curiosity means their always learning, like little sponges soaking everything up. It’s that learning path to shaping their future attitude learning about all the different diversities in the world for the first time.
Sometimes, i will see parents hindering that learning curiosity by making the mistake of telling their children not to stare or point when there’s a disabled person in the vicinity. Why is this bad? Okay, yes staring isn’t polite but their children and only showing that natural learning curiosity to learn more. By telling your children not to stare at disabled people you’re not just hindering their ability to learn about a very misunderstood group of people, you’re teaching them at an early age ‘the stigma’ that being disabled or having a disability/impairment is bad thing and shouldn’t be discussed.
I have plenty of friends with kids and eventually that little curiosity lightbulb into why I’m different to everyone else they meet as they get older, even more so when I arrive at birthday parties – by the end of the birthday party in cool auntie Kez with wheels because I’ve aloud them to jump on the back ‘holding on tight of course and with adult supervision behind them, to have a spin around. Just hearing the laughter and excitement in their voices while shouting ‘go faster, go faster’ They no longer cared about my disability/impairment I’m now the topic of conversation with their parents and with their friends at school as to how cool it was having a go on a wheelchair that moves just by pushing a joystick.
There is a beauty in acceptance plus by changing misconception is only bringing awareness to light. By me showing an allowing them to see my wheelchair in a different light than just something they don’t understand they knew I wasn’t so different. That simple little interaction changed everything.
I’m not saying to tell your kids to jump on the back of every disabled person wheelchair because that would be wrong you should always ask permission, just don’t tell them off for staring. Let them be curious, by go up and interact with the person. You will find most disabled people are more than happy to interact with curious little Angels/monsters and show them that we’re not so different or scary.
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