Representation starts with conversation
Posted Oct 21, 2021 by Jacquie Robison
Pop quiz! You're at a park with your little one and another family with a child using a walker arrives at the playground. How do you react? What do you do?
I sometimes get asked this question when I'm talking to parents and families, and I encourage them to think about what they do when any new kiddo shows up at the park.
Say hi! Share your toys. Start a conversation.
Normalizing physical difference and disability with your children is time well spent and is super important. These talks deepen compassion and empathy in kids, and reinforce that a visible physical difference doesn't define a person.
Use empowering, positive language when you're talking to your child. Consider something like, "a walker is a great tool to help them get their legs stronger and join games you like to play." Avoid language that pities or casts the child in a light of not being capable. It can be helpful to connect to an experience your child may already have....does a grandparent use a walker? Is there a family member who wears glasses? Those are tools that help those individuals with various aspects of life -- and it doesn't change the person's value and worth.
These books are some of my favorites -- and they're just a sampling of the many resources available to start these conversations, allow space for your child to ask questions, and raise an ally.
Demystifying Disability by Emily Ladau
When Charley Met Emma by Amy Webb
Gary's Gigantic Dream by Dr. Nicole Julia
Just Ask! by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor
I am Me from A to Z by Victoria Nelson
Let's Go Play by Shelby McCarthy
What are some of your favorite children's books about inclusion, learning and play? Let's add to the library!