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Helping a child with a disability

In a great deal of the literature and media, emphasis is being placed on helping children with disabilities live a healthy, useful and as happily a childhood as possible. The following steps are, by no means, the only suggestions but to serve as tools for parents/caregivers:

1. Teach the child to live with their disability. This does not means not accepting the realities of the disability but changing her/his adjustment to it as the disability itself changes.

2. Encourage the child to learn to do what he/she can do with their disability, even if this is not as much as other children her/his age are able to do. He/she must be taught to realize that no one person can do everything and that what he/she can do is an important contribution to society just like children who do not have their disability

3. Help her/him to see he/she should not use their disability as a way out of difficult situations or to obtain sympathy. Pity parties are unacceptable.

4. Teach the child that getting angry with others when they offer help is unkind. Tell the child that most people just want to be helpful and kind. Thank them. Accept their assistance with a smile and gracefulness.

5. Help her/him to cultivate cheerfulness. It will not drive away or change their disability, but it will help your child live more successfully with their disability.

6. Encourage her/him to be a good neighbor/person by being friendly and entering into the interest of others. If he/she shares their interests, he/she will discover the other children they meet will try to share their interests as well. Friendship are often made this way, sometimes for life.

7. Teach your child not to talk too much about their disability to others unless the situation requires it. If he/she is asked about it, he/she should learn to respond in a matter-of-fact manner.

8. Though very difficult, help her/him learn not to be upset by tactless comments of others or by stares from strangers. In most instances, most of the people are not being wilfully mean or unkind, only thoughtless. Let the child know that the words or gesture will disappear and he/she will be better able to cope with future incidents.

9. If he/she is able to go to a regular school, there will always be other children to help her/him when he/she needs assistance. If, on the other hand, their disability makes it necessary for her/him to go to a special school or must be home schooled that he/she learn to work through this as he/she has worked through other obstacles their disability may put in their path.

10. Avoid expecting or demanding more than her/his share of attention and help from her/his parents/caregivers/teachers/others. The disabled child must understand that her/his siblings and other family members have their rights and privileges as well and that it is not right to consume all of the family’s/school’s time. Teach her/him to do as much as he/she is able to do for her-/him-self as possible. Then verbally praise and/or hug her/him for their attempts at independence as well as their successes.