How To Teach Kids Empathy For Those With Special Needs? Be An Inclusive Parent/Teacher Yourself

Do you, as a thinking, responsible parent, do your bit towards teaching kids empathy for those with special needs? Being really inclusive yourself is the way forward.

Do you, as a thinking, responsible parent, do your bit towards teaching kids empathy for those with special needs? Being really inclusive yourself is the way forward.

3rd December was World Disability Day.

I am normally not a fan of specific days – I think we appreciate our moms everyday (esp. after I became a mom myself), are women every day of the year, etc. But in the case of different needs, the world in general knows little of the realities of the routine lives of some 21 million of our fellow countrymen and women.

At a conference I attended on the 2nd of December on the topic, I got to see the Indian Government stats on children with special needs.

Did you know that only 0.47% of those who are diagnosed as special needs make it through school? There is no reason for this except our mindsets, our inability to reach services (if they exist) to those in need.

Working with some kids, I realize that OUR attitudes are the disability. What can someone do?

We could:

  • invite a child with a different need in your neighbourhood to playdates/birthday parties;
  • befriend the family enough for them to have some support with care when the parents need to go to the hospital (at the very least), when they need a break and could catch a movie like the rest of us;
  • treat the child as a being when he/she is there: asking them what they want versus asking their parent what they would like… even if you need some translation or clarification, respecting the child as the person they are is important;
  • as teachers, principals and educationists, include all kinds of children, knowing that excluding them speaks of our inabilities to educate, not theirs;
  • speak up when someone abuses them (like my mom did yesterday in her building…yay for you, Amma!);
  • rent our homes to families with kids with different needs;
  • deal with some different noises: it is a sensory need. Imagine, if we are afraid with all our ‘normal’ abilities, what they could be dealing with in that body, with no control, hard to express themselves, unable to explain…;
  • be the parent who understands that including children of all kinds on your child’s classroom means YOUR child benefits in empathy and emotional maturity;
  • sponsor the education of a child with different needs from an economically disadvantaged background. If middle class children with special needs struggle to find admission in schools and get good therapists, can you imagine what it would be like for a poor parent with a child with different needs?
  • spend time with all kinds of people, it enriches us.
  • treat everyone like we would be like to be treated if we couldn’t speak or otherwise express ourselves. Ah, treat everyone with dignity independent of their needs will work. Know that we are not being charitable if we are being ‘nice’ to ‘them’. It is their right to access society and services just like us! There is really only an ‘us’.

Do we know it all? No. We do know that there is no cure for many conditions. When many people on the autism spectrum, with learning difficulties, with cerebral palsy have advanced our civilization (think about the likes of Stephen Hawking), WE would not want for these differences to go away! Selfish but hey, it works.

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May the war on ignorance continue on – I hope the need for a World Disability Day fades away just as we fade away scaffolds and all our people walk towards independent, dignified, productive living.

Do share your relationship with any kind of a different need here in the comments, if you feel comfortable. Sharing makes a difference almost always!

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Published here earlier.

Image source: pixabay


About the Author


Sangitha Krishnamurthi is a special educator, blogger and mother of three. Her interests include living a mindful and organic life as much as possible in addition to reading and writing about the reading. read more...

26 Posts | 133,370 Views

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