Kids are curious. Doesn’t matter what part of the Earth they sprout from. This is their nature. They are discovering the world.
Guess what? People with disabilities happen to be a part of that world.
Children aren’t scared to ask about my mobility aids or question the reason behind my disability. They are curious and just want to know.
I can opt to get offended. Or, I can choose to use this opportunity to enrich their impressionable minds with first-person disability awareness education. I go for the latter approach.
I realize that not all people with disabilities are as frank and open. Our disabilities may link us on some paperwork, but we’re individuals first. I guess, I’m not shy in the least.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t hesitate for a split second. For all I know, I may be the first person this child is talking to with a disability. What can I possibly say in the space of an elevator ride?
If I have time, I always give the inquisitive child permission to tap at my crutches or wheelchair. The mobility device is more often than not, what attracted their attention in the first place. I go onto describe how this aid helps me out. This makes my device(s) more human.
Simply because I’m comfortable, I go onto describe how my problems initially started in childhood following a car accident at age nine. By this revelation, I hope to teach the child that disability can occur at any age. In my case, my disabilities have become more tangible as time has progressed.
We all know that kids have short attention spans. This is when I leave the floor open for questions. I’ve heard all sorts of things in this section of discussion. Take for an example: “How does your wheelchair climb steps?” I always try to anticipate the unexpected, but I’m always surprised.
Throughout this whole process, most kids are accompanied by an adult. It’s always a bit unsettling to notice how quick an able-bodied adult is to shun an innocent child from fulfilling their thirst for knowledge when it comes to the disability experience. Sometimes, I feel like precious time is lost just comforting an adult’s nerves. Kids just let things be.
I’m just one woman. I can’t change the world. But I can change one impression at a time, and I plan to do just that. Even if it takes me the span of my whole life. That’s a commitment that I’m making aloud today. You can quote me on that.
The Original “DitzAbled Princess”
Jewel Kats xoxo