Talking to Children About Disabilities

Have you ever wondered how to talk to your children about people with disabilities? Even very well-meaning parents can find themselves in embarrassing situations; children often just say whatever comes into their minds, and that’s not always what you want them to say, especially when it comes to people who might look or act a little different.

Here are some resources for talking to children about disabilities:

This is a guide about how kids can talk to friends with disabilities, illnesses, developmental delays, and other special needs. It provides specific advice that is actionable in language that kids will understand:

This article has advice from experts about how to talk to children ages 5 to 8 about people with disabilities. It also provides specific answers to questions kids often ask:

This is a great article that explains how to examine your own reactions and feelings about disabilities and how they influence your parenting. It also teaches parents how to talk about disabilities in constructive, positive ways that benefit their children:

This guide for speaking to children about disabilities was created by OFCP. It’s especially useful because it sets forth responses divided up based on the age of the child so that you can address issues in age appropriate ways:

This is a great post from the Fred Rogers company about helping children understand disabilities. It’s particularly useful in that it also addresses fears that kids might have as they think about disabilities, such as whether they could become disabled in the future and how disabilities happen:

This post on talking disabilities with kids is a good one, and is particularly strong in how it handles teaching empathy and treating assistive devices with respect:

This article includes a great Q&A with a parent of a child with Down Syndrome which is very useful for parents hoping to better understand how to talk to their children about disabilities generally and Down Syndrome in particular:

Kid Quest is a character created by the CDC to help kids understand disabilities and health; there are sections for various types of disabilities on this page:

There are lots of good videos to use too, and here are some to start with: