Role Models with Disabilities
Children look up to their parents. Parents have the daunting task of being a child's first and main teachers throughout life. There is a point, however, when every child looks outside the home to peers and others in the world as role models. For the child with a disability, having role models with similar struggles is encouraging. It says: “You can do it!”
Get to know your child's classmates. Which ones are using strategies to compensate for their special needs? Which ones are good influences? Which ones are just plain nice kids? Chances are that these kids and their families will become your friends. You can help each other navigate the waters of new expectations as your children grow.
Check out adult members of the community with special needs who might be a part of a social club or support agency. Get involved in activities with these role models and with your child.
Adults with disabilities can help you better understand what your child is feeling. Volunteers in support agencies sometimes are parents of special needs children (or adults). They, too, can offer guidance in home, community, and school situations. Sometimes, they can serve as advocates for you and your child.
Sometimes, if a child with a special need never interacts with adults having the same disability, they logically assume that they will outgrow the disability. Often deaf children who are not around deaf adults assume that they will hear when they grow up. Look for and help your child get to know role models with similar disabilities.
Famous Faces of Special Needs
Look to famous faces for role models for your child. This is an age of disability awareness, and prominent people with special needs can be found in every area of the media and throughout the pages of history books. TV and sport stars as well as popular entertainers with disabilities can be an inspiration.
Check websites of organizations that focus on your child's specific needs to find information about celebrities and historical figures with disabilities. Spread the word about famous individuals who have beat the odds.
Famous Faces Without Names
Sometimes the famous faces of disability awareness do not come with a name. Do an Internet search for posters, T-shirts, mugs, and toys that portray awareness of your child's needs. They make great gifts for teachers, coaches, child care providers, family, and friends. After all, the more that people are aware of the needs of people with disabilities, the better the quality of life will be for all.
Check with your library for information on children's books about specific disabilities. Sharing books with your child and his friends will promote awareness and acceptance.