Child: “Mummy, why is she in a wheelchair?”
Child: “But Mummy why is she in a wheelchair?”
Parent: “SSSSHHH! It’s rude to point and stare!”
Emily: “It’s because my legs don’t work properly”
Has this happened to you? It happens to us all the time. No one want’s to stare or ask questions. But why? Isn’t it natural to wonder and ask questions about the world?
What about this one?
“What’s wrong with your child?”
Why do people assume there is something wrong? My daughter doesn’t feel wrong, so why should she be? She has a difference. We are all different.
Emily and I agree that education is needed, and it’s up to us to talk about it and explain so that children understand our differences. They aren’t being rude, it maybe the first time they have seen any disabled person, especially a disabled child. Once the question is asked and explained, the barrier is broken and the subject can move on. It’s also a good way to make to friends. If we didn’t cross these barriers, then this is where the prejudice starts.
I don’t mean that every time, you should explain to everyone exactly about child’s condition and the ins and outs of their bowel movements. If Emily gets asked a question that she doesn’t want to answer, she says
“Aaahh, I’m sorry”
Other comments we get are “aaahh, poor child, I’m sorry” Why be sorry? I’m not. Why is having a wheelchair such a terrible thing? The wheelchair doesn’t make her disabled, it makes her enabled! She can move, she is free. She is not “wheelchair bound” we didn’t chain her to the chair, she loves her chair. Yes she uses it full time, and she depends on it, she is wheelchair dependent. But no way is she bound. She is however bound to be in it, whenever you see Emily, you are bound to see her chair. It doesn’t help that nearly every time you see a disabled child on TV, it’s accompanied by sad piano music, and a voice over telling viewers how sad life is with a disability.
My husband Dan, is already challenging these perceptions by creating the Department Of Ability
If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s a group of superheroes, all with disabilities, saving the world.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.