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Explaining Disabililty To Small Children - Carers UK Forum

Explaining Disabililty To Small Children

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I have had quite a bit of experience of this in the last year or two.

First of all I explained to our grandchildren why their uncle who has Down's Syndrome was different to them, they accepted it well as they love him to pieces, and he is very good with them.

Then I had to explain why their Gramps couldn't play with them in the way that he used to after his brain haemorrhage. They took it on board, but it has made one grandson 'E' (4), who was very close to him very sad.

Last week I was out walking with 'E' when he asked me why he got into more trouble than his older cousin (6) who has Aspergers, when they were naughty! They had both been very naughty the previous weekend when visiting us. 'Q' got into moderate trouble tempered by the fact that he has problems, whereas the sky fell in on 'E', which naturally rankled with him! I agreed it must seem very unfair and explained about 'Q' and his problems. I told him that I was treating him as a grown up by explaining it to him. I also said that because 'E' was more responsible, on the whole, he got to do things that 'Q' was not permitted to do. 'E' was very empathetic and promised to look out for 'Q', which was sweet. Incidently 'E', who has some footballing talent, and reckons he will play for England and Liverpool and make mega bucks (I WISH! Image ) said he will set up a charity to help people like his uncle, gramps and cousin, when asked what he would do with all his dosh! Image
One of the hardest things to explain to kids is the reason why they are old enough to know better but their disabled sibling "can't help it", or whatever.

I had this as a child - my sister is disabled - and my eldest son had it too because of Mike. There's no easy way to explain it. And explanations don't always work.

At the time, I pretty much understood the mechanics of what was happening - but I still resented it, it still hurt. And in some ways it hurt more having to give the lion's share of quality time to one of my kids to the detriment of the other when I had little choice in the matter. And knowing all the time what he was going through because I'd been there.
I still find it irritating to try and explain to people my age 15-21 that disability is not just confined to people in wheel chairs or the older generation.
It's difficult not being able to explain because the "normal" kid is too young to take it in too ! See toddler's bewilderment when he gets into trouble for throwing a piece of toast when big autistic brother gets the same for throwing chairs !
Having several people in our family with varying disabilities made things easier. When our Downs Syndrome sonis unable to do something due to his disability, we have always said it is because his brain doesn't quite work the same as his brother and sister;when my younger son was unable to eat sweets or cake at parties, we could say it was due to a little bit in his tummy not working properly(he was diabetic from a young age). When the children had difficulties understanding why their Dad couldn't do things, we could say it was a little bit in his back, or a little bit in his eyes not working properly.
We always followed the same principle when talking to our childrens friends, and actually our son with Downs Syndrome was never treated any differently, even though 20 years ago, children with Downs Syndrome were only just starting to attend mainstream schools, and have friends in the general community.

It is still difficult knowing that your children are having a much more varied life than their schoolfriends, due to their roles within the family,but the only one of my children without health problems, is now 18, a lovely young woman who is becoming a very good friend too.She says that she would not change her childhood one bit, because that has made her the person she is. Image
Our DS son never had any behavioural problems so has always fitted in well into our family; we adopted him as a baby. He is the nicest person in the world, and is very good with small children. He happened to be in the car last week when I dropped E and his small brother off at nursery. E asked if he could take his uncle into nursery to show him off, "Not everyone has a very special uncle!", said E! Image