Ellis has faced his share of adversity in a wheelchair; he was pleased to overhear a conversation that a mother had with her child about his disability.
Global (24 December 2020) – Ellis was recently out in public when he overheard a young child ask their mom why he was in a wheelchair. Her discussion with the child was incredibly positive as opposed to the usual hushed and embarrassed responses he overhears regularly.
Ellis took to social media to thank the mother for her positive dialogue and share his thoughts on the matter. His Twitter thread went viral. The mother’s explanation is refreshing and heartwarming. Her child will be more accepting of people with disabilities, which will lead to a better world!
Take a read of Ellis’s thread below.
“Yesterday I overheard a little kid asking their mum why I was using a wheelchair, and the mum simply replied “well maybe his legs need a bit of extra help. you can ask him if he’s happy to tell you more.” no shaming the kid for asking, no treating disability as a hush-hush topic.
When parents are embarrassed by their kids asking questions about disability and try to get them to be quiet asap, it teaches them disability is something they shouldn’t talk about, it makes it seem bigger and scarier and uncomfortable.
It’s remarkably simple really; there’s no need to treat disability like a big taboo, especially to kids. It’s much more uncomfortable to hear a parent scrambling to get their kid to be quiet about my disability than to answer their questions; they’re just curious.
The more you tiptoe around disability and seem uncomfortable about it when talking to your kids, the more they will internalise that and learn to feel uncomfortable about disability too, perpetuating the alienation of disabled people.
But if you give a simple, relaxed answer & give them the space to ask questions, disability is just another new thing they’re learning about, like many other things they learn every day. Then maybe their relaxed attitude about disability will be passed onto their friends, & so on.
As the adult in this kind of scenario, you have so much power to shape the way the child views disability, and that can set a precedent for how they’ll see disability for the rest of their life. So hearing a simple, relaxed response like this really made my day.
(I condensed her explanation somewhat for the purposes of the tweet, so I think it’s worth noting that she also gave examples from the kid’s life to relate it to “like granny’s pancreas needs help & I need to take insulin” which I think was also simple and helpful!)
(also should note the kid was maybe 2? and obviously what is an appropriate response changes a lot with age. the older a kid is, the more I’d rather the parent does the explaining/showing them other info than suggesting they ask me as this is more doable for older kids)”
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