What better day than today to publish this post.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
We’re not quite there yet, are we?
Before you know it, it will be March and April–Disabilities Awareness Month and Autism Awareness Month. Both are great months and great conversation starters to start to share with the rest of the world how great our kids are. But, a good teacher plans ahead. So….March and April are NOT good months to approach them and see if they can fit “Disabilities Awareness” or “Autism Awareness” into their existing lesson plans. That time is now! I am proud to say that I approached my son’s preschool (my son without disabilities) and asked her to include this in the upcoming months. We met, we chatted online…and they are doing it! His school does a whole thing for MLK day and people who are different from you, and in February they do a whole thing on love and friendships and it will be discussed then. She (preschool director) then shared with me a book she found in their library that they are going to use, and the whole thing inspired this post. So here you go, not only do you approach your school or church or scout troop and say “I’d like to encourage you to teach kids about kids with disabilities, and I will help if you’d like” but now you have some resources to send to them as well.
Note, this is about teaching inclusion and teaching acceptance and tolerance. This is not teaching strategies for an inclusive classroom. This is to answer questions that kids may have about other kids who are different. Understanding is the first step and it’s ok for kids to be curious.
So here you go, I combed the web and found many printables and downloads and websites for you to use. I did not create any of these, merely sharing them.
- Disability Awareness Packet (note: This packet is good, but almost 10 years old. It contains the phrase “mental retardation” because that is the language used then. You may want to change that part to “intellectual disability.”)
- Learning About Disabilities
- Understanding Kids with Disabilities LESSON PLANS
- Teaching Tolerance website with discussion points and lesson ideas.
- The Idea Room
- Disability Awareness Tips from the Huffington Post
- Hasbro recently came out with some pretty cool stuff to teach empathy to kids
This video is a bit dry, but it’s all I could find. He has some good thoughts and ideas.
Even if your own child’s teacher or troop leader won’t do this, don’t get discouraged. If you have non-disabled siblings in the home or nieces/nephews, the opportunity will present itself and you can use these tips then.
- As age appropriate, let children be curious. Children are always learning, even if you are not consciously teaching them. So let’s make sure they get the right information.
- Focus on your (disabled) child’s strengths and what they like; find common ground with the other kids. Create understanding.
- Allow them a safe place to ask questions, so they don’t create fear-based hate later on. Allow open conversations in your own, invite them.
I didn’t ask to be a Civil Rights Activist, these are the cards I was dealt. If not you, who?