aunt_becca (aunt_becca) wrote,

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Differences, and how to address them with a young child.....

Something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is how to address the issue of illness, disability, and people who for whatever reason look “different” to Ben. A few months ago, Ben and i were taking a walk. A Little Person walked past us, and we said hello. Be stated that “he looks like a kid and an adult. Which is he?” I explained that he was an adult that happened to be small, and Ben was perfectly happy to move on to debating me about which super hero could go undefeated in battle. We saw a person with a cane yesterday, and he asked me in a loud voice “why do they have THAT?! “ He went on to ask me if they got hurt, if they forgot how to walk, and all sorts of things only a 5 year old can ask. I explained as best that I could that sometimes people need help getting around, and that he may see people in wheelchairs, using walkers or canes. Or, they may walk with a limp. I also explained how sometimes people may look different than we do for all sorts of reasons, whether it being that they have limbs missing (this came up last year), have scars, or other injuries. It’s not “funny,” just different looking. The message I was trying to give him is that people can be different on the outside, and that it’s what they do, and how they interact with us, that’s truly important. I think he gets that as best that he can.
My big question is how to respond when he asks these things loudly, in public. Like “hey! is he an adult or a kid!?” or “why does her face look funny?!” The last thing I would want is for someone to feel insulted or embarrassed. And are there other ways to describe someone with differences in a way that he will understand?
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