Although I was never considered a child with special needs, I was a special needs child, just like any other child dealing with a disability.
Whether we’re the child or the adult with a mild disability, we’re expected to fall into line, and our struggles sometimes met with resentment from those close to us.
The reality is that where others should be emotionally supporting us, we often have to be our own emotional support. Attitude is massively important to those of us who deal with a disability. But attitude starts at home with our parents.
If society is going to permanently change attitudes towards disability, it’s up to parents to explain to their children, and instil inclusivity and kindness in them. Those of us with a mild disability struggle even more, because our shortcomings aren’t always apparent, and we’re expected to conform.
My suggestions for behaving towards those with a disability are as follows:
- Don’t see anyone with a disability as a problem, or someone that needs to be fixed, just because you’re struggling to understand how they present;
- Not all people with disabilities present in the same way, so It’s important we understand each disability separately and how each person presents;
- Compassion, patience and kindness go a long way towards communicating and understanding what someone with a disability deals with and needs to happen.
I believe being around someone with a disability can teach us about ourselves, but we must look for the understanding. I also believe we would reduce the stigma of disability, and disabled people would fit into their lives more comfortably if attitudes towards them were to change.
But what has happened to compassion, empathy, tolerance, patience and understanding? Because that’s all it would take. If the shoe were on the other foot, others would expect nothing less from us.