Ableism and its Impact on Our Children

As parents, we’re keenly aware of the difficulties our children struggle with and do our best to help them blend in with the rest of society. We know what happens when you don’t blend in. You get stares. Children ask questions, and instead of answering them the parents shush them, as if the act of noticing someone else is different is inherently naughty. The child’s question goes unanswered, and so the child stares. The parent looks everywhere but in your direction and ignores you and your child’s existence.

“…the “ableist” societal world-view is that the able-bodied are the norm in society, and that people who have disabilities must either strive to become that norm or should keep their distance from able-bodied people.” (1)

Is this the intent of the parent shushing their child? It’s doubtful. In the process of learning, children have a tendency to ask a lot of questions in public that aren’t appropriate public topics. The intent of the parent is likely good. Unfortunately, those good intentions send a specific message to the child. Disability is to be ignored. Do not try to understand why someone looks different. Leave the person that looks different alone (avoid them).

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