While scrolling on Facebook earlier today, I came across an excellent article (http://forwardinchrist.net/respond-to-special-needs/) on how to approach an family with a disabled child. It gave some great tips on how to respond to your children's questions about other children with disabilities. At the end of the article, the mom asked their typical developing daughter some questions about her feelings regarding people approaching her brother with a disability.
I thought that was a fantastic idea. So I grabbed Kyle from his tablet (it's totally been a Minecraft kind of day around here) and asked him the same questions.
Disclaimer: While these are Kyle's exact answers, it did take some prodding on my part to get more details from him. He prefers yes or no kind of questions. But once he got going, he did so awesome :)
Q: What do you like to do with David?
Kyle: Play with him with his hats. I like to do that because it makes us both laugh.
Q; When someone meets David for the first time, what kinds of questions do they ask?
Kyle: Why is he in a wheelchair? Can he talk? Can he see? What does he like? What's that thing on his stomach?
Q: How do you answer when people ask those questions?
Kyle: He has to get fed through a feeding tube or he might choke. His brain doesn't work exactly like ours. It sends different signals to his body than mine does.
Q: How does it make you feel when people stare at David?
Kyle: It makes me feel weird. I don't like it when they stare.
Q: What would you like to say when that happens?
Kyle: Even though he's not normal, you shouldn't stare at him. If you have a question you should ask me, or my mom or dad.
And then some extra insight that came at the end of the questions. At this point, he was laying it all out there ;)
Kyle: "I'm fine with David being disabled. He's still fun even though he is mentally like a baby, but really 16. He likes to play with his favorite toys, like I play with mine. He gets mad and sad. Just like me."
There are a few other kids I'd love to ask these same questions to. My sister's oldest son (14) & youngest daughter (4) both have pretty close relationships with David. I'd also like to ask my niece on Michael's side (almost 11). She has a great relationship with him as well. Just to get their perspectives at their ages right now.