Mental and physical disabilitiesPage 3/6: Topic A: The basic needs of disabled children: Inclusion and respect – focus on the person, not the disability
Topic A: The basic needs of disabled children:
Inclusion and respect – focus on the person, not the disability
As stated in earlier sessions, all children have two needs which are more important to fulfil than anything else: to attach to a few caregivers while growing up and to experience that they are valued members of a group.
For the professional caregivers, this statement has important consequences for the professional attitudes and values of the workplace:
- Always focus on showing the child that it is valued as a person, and that having a disability is not as important as the person.
- Always focus on showing the child that it is part of the group, and try to let it participate as much as possible in normal daily activities, in any way it is able to. If you sit around the dinner table, it doesn’t matter if some children are sitting in a wheelchair. If they are fed in their own rooms or in a special place, this will have severe consequences for their self-esteem.
- Be open and factual in informing others (other children, parents and extended family, neighbours, etc.) about the child’s disability from the start. Always demonstrate that you focus on the person and his or her positive qualities. Do not say “This boy is autistic” -rather say “This is Andrei – he is a wonderful boy. He has a problem called “autism” which I will tell you about now. Then we can discuss what we need to pay special attention to in order to help each other support him”.
Reflection and discussion
Looking back at your childhood and youth experiences:
- Do you have personal or family experience with disabled family members?
- How did the disability affect the development of the disabled child?
- How did the child’s disability affect the parents and other children in the family?
- Looking back at this knowledge, what would you recommend that you and your colleagues should practice in your work with children with disabilities? What would you recommend to avoid?
- Please discuss and list some attitudes and principles you agree to apply on your work.