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Really need some help here pls. How do I explain about disabilities to dd?

(17 Posts)
Blossomhill Thu 04-Aug-05 08:56:57

Dd is starting to notice everything lately and although has been around children with disabilites all of her life I find she is beginning to become more curious.
How do I explain to dd about disabilities and sn in a way she will understand. As to be honest I know that dd being as literal and direct and she is will probably say infront of the child/parent (especially where the disability is visible) why do you look like that, have a wheelchair etc. Dd is of course being very innocent as that is part of her disability being this way.
I just feel that I would find it hard to explain as she too has special needs and I don't think really realises it yet.
Just wondered if there may be a book or something I could buy. It's just we are round a lot of people with disabilites quite a lot of the time.

Davros Thu 04-Aug-05 09:14:41

Hmm, can't advise BH as haven't had this problem! I'm sure others must have crossed this one and I know there are lots of books about, hope someone can recommend one.

Blossomhill Fri 05-Aug-05 17:41:23

Anyone have any experience? Thanks

MrsGordonRamsay Fri 05-Aug-05 18:10:05

The only thing I said to DS is that everyone is different, I asked him if he would like to only eat the same dinner every day for ever, his reply was no, that would be boring, so I said that life would be boring if we were all the same.

He is only 4, so I am going to leave it at that for the time being.

coppertop Fri 05-Aug-05 18:55:51

Ds1 has finally started to ask questions about everything (but that's probably a whole new thread in itself!). When it comes to disabilities I tend to keep things fairly general but try to use examples that he understands. When he asked why someone was "in that pushchair" (a wheelchair) I just said that sometimes people either can't walk at all or that they can't walk a long way without someone to help them - just like ds2 could walk but needed his pushchair if we had to go a long way.

With blindness I tell him that some people's eyes don't work very well, just like my ears don't work very well. Again this is something that he can relate to. With more general disabilities I explain that sometimes people can't always do the same things that everyone else can. For this one ds1 sometimes gives his own examples of things he can't do that his classmates can.

It can still be embarrassing though. I still remember when he announced loudly "Look, Mummy! That lady isn't a proper grown-up . She's too small" while pointing at someone with dwarfism (if that's the right term to use?). I had to explain that grown-ups can be all different sizes. Some are small like me and some are very tall like dh.

It's a minefield tbh. I've seen some general books in the children's section of the library with stories about "X is in a wheelchair" etc but I'm not sure how good these would be with ds1 as he finds it hard to generalise the issues. I don't know if your dd might find them useful though?

Blossomhill Fri 05-Aug-05 19:01:23

That's the trouble though isn't it ct. Our children say it as it is
Unfortunately people don't realise that this is because of their disability!
I am terrible as if I see a potential for dd saying something I quickly whisk her away, which isn't good. If I see a particularly big person for example as I just know dd will say something!

MrsGordonRamsay Fri 05-Aug-05 19:20:55

There is a branch of Woolies, where I live and there is a girl who has a fairly extensive strawberry birth mark on her face.

The first time DS ever saw it he shouted at the top of his voice, that girl's face is filthy.

It was then I first gave him, the we are all different chat.

I then took him to her and asked him to apologise, she said that is OK I am used to it

I said it is not OK.

And she replied, you are the first Mum in ages to deal with the matter.

How sad is that ??

tassis Fri 05-Aug-05 19:36:42

This is very intersting. My friend and I were talking about this the other day.

I can do "eyes don't work very well" or "legs are sore" or whatever, but had somthing similar to MrsGR with a birthmark on the face of a shop assistant and ds saying (loudly) "uh-oh sore, uh-oh sore" and pointing. He was only about 20 months at the time so we just distracted him, but I didn't know what to say either.

Watching with interest...

Blossomhill Fri 05-Aug-05 19:39:28

I think the other problem is how you explain it especially if the parents are there with the child. It's so hard to know what to say and what not to say.
As dd's disability is invisible I haven't actually come across anything or anyone saying things. They just look at her funny when she does her quirky things

coppertop Fri 05-Aug-05 19:42:17

I think that some of ds1 has been devising his own little explanations for the reasons why things are the way they are. It's only now that he's starting to realise that his theories aren't always accurate. He seems to think that when people get to my age they are all my height, and that when they get to dh's age they will all be dh's height. Seeing an adult who was smaller than me must've really thrown him. He tends not to notice whether people are slim or overweight (probably after seeing me every day .

Social stories might help reduce the amount of comments dd makes about people. Sometimes I think a few NT adults could do with Social Stories to stop them from making comments about people in the street.

coppertop Fri 05-Aug-05 19:45:37

Yes, I still get those looks when ds1 is showing his entire range of quirks. He's joined a summer swimming group and stands out a mile from the NT children. I can't honestly be bothered with explaining it to them (I think my rhino skin is appearing ).

coppertop Fri 05-Aug-05 19:46:54

Ooops! By "them" I mean the other parents. I explained ds1's ASD to the instructor before I signed ds1 up for the course.

WigWamBam Fri 05-Aug-05 19:50:14

I don't know whether I've dealt with it correctly but dd is 4, and for as long as I can remember I've told her that everyone is different. Some people have dark skin, some fair; some are fat, some thin; some have parts of their bodies that don't work as well as they should; some have scars, etc etc.], but that everyone should be treated the same, no matter how they look.

She has a couple of friends with SN; one has brain damage and severe learning difficulties, and the other is profoundly deaf, does not speak and also has learning difficulties. We have taught dd that just because her friends look and behave differently to her doesn't mean that they should be treated any differently to her - their brains and bodies work differently to hers, but they are still nice, they still have feelings just like everyone else, and they are still her friends.

So far (touch wood!) she has never pointed out anyone as being different for any reason, and I hope that's because we have managed to teach her about differences in a way that she has understood and been able to assimilate.

Blossomhill Fri 05-Aug-05 19:58:02

You are braver than I am coppertop. Dd is hopefully starting lessons with a private teacher who teaches in a mld. I think as jj's put it in her thread it's just too painful when you see the comparisons to other children their age.

Blossomhill Fri 05-Aug-05 19:58:23

mld school I mean !

coppertop Sat 06-Aug-05 13:08:40

WWB Your dd always sounds so lovely, bless her.


BH - Ds1 used to hate even being in the bath so it was a miracle to me when he asked a couple of months ago if he could go swimming in the summer holidays. I saw a 2-week course advertised and phoned the instructor first to see if it would be suitable for ds1. She was great and gave me lots of detail about the kinds of things they would be doing, the depth of the pool, whether adults would be in the water with ds1 etc. She mentioned that one of the other children had dyspraxia so I decided to give it a try. The first day was so awful (lots of crying and ds1 escaping from the pool) that the instructor told me that she'd almost phoned me afterwards to say that I could actually have the course fees back if ds1 didn't want to go anymore. Usually the fee is non-refundable so that was very kind of her. Luckily ds1 wanted to go back and try again and is now doing really well. It's just hard seeing the others so enthusiastic and ready to try anything while ds1 is obviously torn between wanting to be able to swim like the others and his old fear of the water.

MrsEffervescent Sat 06-Aug-05 14:49:15

i have had a few questions from alex this week- as he is at a general SN playscheme...i explained how he has problems sitting still...uses his own words that noone understands...touching other people.... etc....and that other people cannot hear very well...see very well...eat very well etc...and that some people have 'poorly' bodies which mean they cannot walk etc.

I explained things at his level.

He then watched 'something special' and learnt some makaton as he said that his friend at the scheme talks with her hands.

i was so proud.... and pleased that my explanation of disabilities had been what he could take on board.

However...leigh is a bit harder..prob as he is mre affected by his AS than i believe alex is....Leigh the otehr day got very aggitated when a mum gave us a lift to his playscheme- and her son was screeching and dribbling etc...he is severley disabled (pardon the term)...and leigh in true AS fashion proclaimed his thoughts about this lad- and complained at the noise by putting his hands to his ears and banging his head on the car seat (a true sign of his stress).....

i was reading a thread someone did about how the public NT's react to our disabled kids- but this for me was very hard to handle as i could on one hand see what was triggering leigh's discomfort- but on the other hand i was mortified that he had done this.

Leigh really struggles generally with empathy- and cannot see himself in anyone else- so can only assume that this is why he reacted- he was unable at that moment to think about the other lad- only himself- and that is the nature of AS i guess.

that said...i really wish for once he'd have controlled himself...but i cannot give him a hard time over something that to him is no different to him seeing any tom dick or harry- untill he has something specifically explained he does not know how to behave/react.

luckily...as we were off the the SN scheme...and the mum knows leigh well (and has seen him react like this to many other triggers...well... wno apology was needed or expected) However... yet again i was hit for 6 and then worked out a 'social chat' (verbal social stories that work well for leigh)- top hopefully avoid this happening too often.

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