What are some ways to Teach Children How to Respect Other Children with Special Needs?
Volunteer. This is what helped me to help my son respect and appreciate each person's unique circumstances.
Not only did my son enjoy volunteering with children who had special needs, it helped him to develop an understanding and bond with those he may not have otherwise become closely involved with. It proved to be a great experience for all.
Teach them to respect themselves first and foremost. Then teach that everyone is entitiled to the same regardless of their abilities, color, religion or anything else.
Since my daughter has grown up with others with special needs, this is an issue that has really not been an issue. I think that by allowing a typical child to ask questions about a special needs individual is a great way to break the ice. Children are honest if nothing else and even although their questions may be brutally honest, they need to understand, at their level, an answer.
For example, when a typical child sees another child who is in a wheel chair, explain the possibilities as to why that child is in the wheelchair. My daughter is ambulatory but has seizures and is developmentally delayed. She is 20 years old but still loves to play. She is great with kids because developmentally she still is a kid.
We've had issues with other kids with whom she wants to play "outgrowing" her and moving on to what others their age do. She doesn't understand, but we muddle through. She does have a friend we met when the friend was 5 and my daughter has 15 and this little girl is the most patient and wonderful kid ever. I like to believe it's due to the exposure she's had to my daughter and watching us interact.
As for teaching other typical kids, it's a matter of exposure and being as honest as possible in a language they understand. Having them help an individual with special needs, volunteering at school or church, camps, and even visiting a hospital are great ways to help them understand that even though we are all different, we all have the same need to be accepted for who we are as individuals.
Communication is key here I think. The more you can teach kids about disabilities the better. If they can understand what the differences are and why, it takes some of the mystery out of it. The unknown is scary for all of us, the more they know, the less likely they are to judge or criticize.
I agree with all the above statements. Yes, don't let it be a mystery.
Education and exposure in a volunteer setting is key. Of course explain age
I had an amazing opportunity to teach this to my PreK class a few years ago. We had a little girl in our room with Down Syndrome (she had other health issues as well). I talked to my kids about how we all need help. Some need it for small things like learning how to ride a bike, or how to tie shoes. But sometimes there are people who need a little more help than others. I had a great set of class parents and "L's" parents who helped me explain what Down Syndrome was in its simplest terms. (The kids were only 4-5). I made it a point of teaching them signs to help "talk" to L and they even learned her favorite toys and books. L was also a "roller" she couldn't crawl or walk, so she tended to kick the kids if they got in her way. After a few times and a few tears, they all began to understand that she wasn't being malicious, just trying to get around the room.
A few years after that, L and her mom ran into one of her old classmates at the doctor's office. That little boy didn't even hesitate to run up to L and give her a huge hug and kiss, telling her how he missed his old friend. It made me so happy to see that what he learned by being with L day in and day out really stuck with that little boy. I only hope he stays so kind to others as he grows.
How a special person taught children to respect people with special needs. Josie's gift to us was the lesson of acceptance and love. read more
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