Including You – How to be ‘matter-of-fact’ when talking your kids about disabilities

(U.S.) – From a classmate with dyslexia to a neighbor who uses a wheelchair, your child may be curious about people with disabilities.

Including You is brought to you by the Tuscarawas County Board of Developmental Disabilities

Talking to your children openly about disabilities can help him/her gain a better understanding of why some people look, talk, act, or move a little bit differently.

According to the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, there are a few things parents can do to help their children better understand the different kinds of people they may encounter.

Provide Education in a Matter-of-Fact Manner. According to, it’s important that parents and guardians talk directly to their children about disabilities. They shouldn’t try and convince their kids that someone with a disability is just like them, but instead, acknowledge that they are al little different. But, they should make it clear that just because someone is different, it doesn’t make them bad.

Try showing your child how to talk about those differences in a respectful manner. Offer them resources and share the language to use when talking about someone with a learning or physical disability. Educate your child about disabilities directly. Say things like, “The muscles in our neighbor’s legs don’t work like yours and that’s why she has trouble walking.” And keep emotion out of the conversation. If you say someone’s disability is “sad,” your child may pitty that person and that isn’t helpful.

A few things to point out about disabilities include

  • Explain to your child that some people are born with disabilities. Be sure to be clear that sometimes, babies are born with disabilities, but other times people develop them later in life.
  • People with disabilities aren’t sick. Tal to your child about how other children with cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy aren’t “sick.” You want to be sure your child knows he/she can’t ‘catch’ a disability.
  • There’s nothing wrong with people with disabilities. Your child may innocently ask things like, “what’s wrong with her.” Be sure to explain to your child that just because another child may have trouble talking or walking, it doesn’t mean there’s anything ‘wrong,’ with him/her.
  • Let your child know that a physical disability doesn’t mean someone has a cognitive disability. At times, children can assume someone with a physical disability may also struggle to communicate or may not be smart. Make it clear that just because someone’s body doesn’t work the same way as theirs, doesn’t mean their brain is impaired in any way.


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