Before having kids with disabilities, I was not aware about my interactions around people with disabilities. When our friends’ daughter was born with Down syndrome, I said some things that were ignorant and showed how little I knew about people with disabilities. I did not know what to say or not to say or how to act.
In today’s podcast episode, Erin and I talk about disability etiquette when interacting with kids with disabilities and their families.
The freebie this week is a disability etiquette guide.
You know how sometimes you wish you could talk to people about how to treat your child or what things are OK or not OK to say? This is a guide you can print out and hand out to your church, school, daycare, and even family members if you need to. So make sure you get your own copy of the Disability Etiquette for Interacting With Kids With Disabilities and Their Families
One more thing, Erin and I talk about how sometimes we don’t even get it right. We say this because we do not want anyone to feel as if they can never get it right. It is possible many of us don’t. The point is, we are learning, and we want to be sensitive and respectful of children (and adults) with disabilities.
Listen to the show:
- Don’t push a child in a wheelchair without asking the child first and wait for consent.
- Don’t touch a child without asking the child first, and wait for consent. Don’t pat their head either, it is condescending.
- Talk to the child with a disability, not their parent or the person they are with.
- All forms of communication are acceptable and valid. Everyone communicates.
- Do not ask for personal medical information and do not share that information unless there is consent.
- Don’t make negative comments about the child or their disability in front of the child.
- Always presume competence.
- Talk to kids with disabilities in age appropriate ways. No baby talk.
- If you want to pray ask, “How can I pray for you” rather than, “Can I pray for [your disability]” Most people with disabilities are not looking for healing, but acceptance.
- Do not use generalizations. “If you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism.”
- Use preferred language by the person with a disability. If unsure, use people first language. Consider preferred language used by the disability community (adults).
- Avoid “high functioning’ and “low functioning” labels.
- No unsolicited advice.
- No staring.
- No parent shaming for their choices.