Living with Disabilities
Do you know someone who uses a wheelchair? Wears glasses? Has difficulty hearing? Technically, all these (and many more) are referred to as disabilities. Perhaps a more accurate term would be "different abilities" People who have a "disability" can do most things a "regularly abled" person can do. They just may do them a little differently. For example, people in wheelchairs may not be able to walk, but they can certainly move around.
Disabilities can be caused by chronic health problems like asthma or epilepsy, a sudden or severe illness, an accident, congenital problems from birth, or just a different way that your body functions (like dyslexia or stuttering).
Whether you use a reading device or glasses to read, or a wheelchair or cane to help you move around, you are capable of learning, growing and maturing just like someone who does not use these devices.
If you know someone who has a specific type of difficulty, you may realize that it is sometimes hard for him or her to have the same opportunities or experiences as you do. For example, if your friend is in a wheelchair and you go to a place that does not have a ramp or a lift, your friend cannot go along.
People who have special needs are not dumb or incapable of doing all the things that you can do. They may just need a little extra help doing some tasks. Every person is different, but most everyone wants to have friends and participate in school and social activities. You can help your friends who have special needs by asking them about how you can best assist them, and by being understanding if they need a little extra time or assistance. With a little help they can generally participate in some way.
There are many organizations to help people with disabilities, and many ways to learn more about their lives. Kids' Quest has interactive quizzes and resources to help you understand what it's like to live with a disability, and to find more information on specific "different abilities."
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Below are links PAMF accessed when researching this topic. PAMF does not sponsor or endorse any of these sites, nor does PAMF guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kids' Quest on Disability
Department of Health and Human Services. Illness and Disability.
National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities.