A few years ago my mum asked my cousin (who was about 4 or 5 years old at the time) why I needed to use a hoist to get into bed. Her answer, which I found hilarious, was “because he is lazy.”
That’s the great thing about kids, they’re brutally honest.
Small children are naturally curious and if they see something that they don’t understand then they will likely ask their parents about it.
This could include people who are visibly disabled. I’ve seen many stories online about when children see disabled people in public and ask their parents about them.
They might say things like “why is that person in the chair?” or “what is wrong with that person’s face?”
In my opinion, it’s fine when children ask these questions because it’s only natural that they would be curious about somebody who looks different.
It’s an opportunity to help them understand disabled people better. But parents often discourage their children from pointing out disabled people and asking questions about them. They seem to think it’s rude, which I disagree with.
If it was an adult asking questions like “can you have sex?” (which disabled people tend to get asked ridiculously often) then this would obviously be rude. But children asking more innocent questions like “Why do you walk like that?” is not rude at all.
I understand why parents might think that it’s rude to ask disabled people about their physical appearances, but coming from children it’s not.
In fact, if parents tell their children not to ask questions to disabled people then they may grow up thinking that they shouldn’t talk to disabled people at all. They may grow up to be one of the 67% of people who feel uncomfortable talking to disabled people.
Maybe if more children started interacting with disabled people at an early age then we would have fewer adults feeling awkward and apprehensive about talking to disabled people.
There is already a lot of prejudice against disabled people in the UK so we don’t need any more. We need to be teaching our children that people may look different on the outside but inside we are all the same.
One time I was in Asda and a little girl, probably about 3 or 4 years old, smiled and waved at me as she went by. This was nice to see because usually kids just stare at me so it made a nice change.
We need more people in the world like that little girl who see the person not the disability and who are not afraid of people who are different.
Please don’t shush your child if they ask you questions about someone who has a disability. Instead answer truthfully about why the person may be the way they are.
Or, even better, encourage them to go up to the person and ask them. I can’t speak for every disabled person but I’m sure most of them wouldn’t mind a child asking them questions.
It would help the next generation to better understand disabled people, be more compassionate and more accepting of people’s differences.
That can only be a good thing.