Learning to accept ourselves is hard to do, especially when we want so much to fit in with our friends and our classmates.
Most of us are self-conscious about the way we look. Or we wish we could be better than we are at something. Many of us worry about things that are invisible to our friends and our families. But they are important to us and influence the way we act.
When you have a disability, fitting in is even harder. A disability is the first thing other people see. Sometimes it's the only thing. And people forget to look beyond the wheelchair, or the hearing aid, or the prosthesis.
They don't see the person -- only the person's disability. They forget that these are people who could be our friends. Kids with disabilities may seem different, at first. But they are people with many interests, ideas and feelings, just like everyone else!
When Meeting Friends With Disabilities:
- It's okay to offer your help to someone, but don't just go ahead. Ask first. Or wait for someone to ask you for your help.
- It's okay to ask people about their disabilities and it's also okay for them not to talk about it.
- Remember, just because people use wheelchairs, it doesn't mean they are sick. Lots of people who use wheelchairs are healthy and strong.
- When you're talking with people who use wheelchairs, sit down so their necks won't get sore looking up at you.
- It's okay to use words like "see", "hear", "walk" and "run" when you're talking with friends who have disabilities.
- It's okay to ask people who have speech problems to repeat what they said if you didn't understand the first time.
- If an interpreter is helping you speak with a deaf person, make sure you talk to the deaf person, not the interpreter.
- Don't speak loudly when talking to blind people. They hear as well as you do.
- Never pet or play with Seeing Eye dogs. They can't be distracted from the job they are doing.
- Invite friends with disabilities to sleep over, come to your house to play, or to your birthday party. Think about ways to make sure that they can be included in the things that you do.
- Don't let your parents park in places reserved for people with disabilities.
- When you go to restaurants and shopping malls, see if a disabled friend could be there with you. If not, ask the manager to put in ramps, get raised numbers for the elevators, or have braille menus printed.
- Treat a person with a disability the way you like to be treated and you'll have a friend for life.