Children with disabilities or children with different abilities?

Allowing the approach to children with different abilities we can learn from them

The language has been humanized over the years, if generations were spoken of Mongolian children, today it seems unthinkable to use those terms. Stupid, retarded or idiotic children are expressions that fortunately have gone down in history.

We currently use the name of the disability to refer to children with Down syndrome, Asperger, autistic, with motor or hearing disorders. We also use the word disability to refer to them. However, the parents of these children have begun to use another term: children with different abilities.

Children with special or different abilities

We use the term disability or handicap since the early 90's when its use was finalized after the consensus carried out by more than 70 countries. However, as of the year 2000, the one who was then a Mexican candidate for the Vicente Fox presidency used the term different capacities to highlight the abilities or virtues of people with disabilities during his election campaign. The term had such an impact that it was registered in federal or local laws. And little by little, it was being used by more people, mainly by people with disabilities and their families.

But why use this term? What is the difference between a child with a disability and another with a special ability?

There is none, the difference is in the language, that is, in the meaning that both terms have for society. If we refer to children with disabilities, the first thing we think is that they are people with less capacity than us, which, for many parents, is wrong since they cannot be considered inferior or fewer people than other children.

However, talking about different or special abilities does not imply belittling the child, but keeping him at the same level as other children but emphasizing that he has other abilities or abilities. It is based on the fact that all human beings have aptitudes, talents or abilities to exercise something, whether we have a disability or not. And, children with some type of disorder also have abilities, fight and struggle, try, work, fall and get up, just like any other child.

This new term can help children to be treated equally, without thinking about differences or making them notice. Avoid pity glances or unequal treatment. Allowing the approach to children with different abilities to also learn from them.

People do not have disabilities, but different skills

We all have different abilities, be they psychological, physical or emotional. Nobody is perfect. My mother always said that I was a misfit. After all, in my teens' voices roamed my head. However, I learned something: what happened to me could not become a limit to my life. As sportsman Scott Hamilton says, "the only disability in life is a bad attitude."

I recently learned the story of Donald Gray, the first case diagnosed with autism in 1933. He was a child who lived with his own way of seeing the world and communicating with the rest. At that time the "maladjusted" was sent to an institution, while the rest of the family returned to the so-called "normal life." However, Donald's relatives were aware that he listened "in his own way", and in a year he returned home.

That was when Dr. Leo Kanner entered his life. After meeting Donald, and other children with the same type of behavior, he published an article in which he established guidelines for diagnosing the syndrome. Thereafter, his parents turned to Donald being able to connect with the world. Forest, his town in the middle of Mississippi, took care that it was one of them. Autism has not disappeared from Donald's life, he has simply learned to fight the limits. Today he lives in the house where he grew up, surrounded by his friends; practice golf and travel all over the world.

The legendary baseball player Jim Abbott, a successful one-handed pitcher, says that “disability does not define you; It defines how you deal with the challenges that disability presents you. ”

Each person, regardless of the circumstances in which they are, is able to grow. Thanks to the support of his parents and his community, Donald has broken paradigms, has connected with the rest of the world and has joined the society. We all have a responsibility for those who, unlike Donald, do not have the opportunity to promote their rights. Here are some tips:

  1. Don't judge, know the person before acting
  2. Facilitate your relationship with others
  3. Do not be overprotective. Avoid paternalism
  4. Be interested in learning about each disability
  5. Have the patience necessary to understand each situation
  6. Discover what you can learn even from those who live in their own world.
  7. As Robert M. Hensel, a wheelchair athlete and Guinness recordist, says, people do not have disabilities, but "different skills."


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