Talking to the class about a child with a disability
The population of children with primary language disorder is significant, and some of these children will remain in mainstream classes for most, if not all of their education. It is important the children in these class are given the opportunity to gain an understanding of disability and what that means for the children affected.
Address the children’s curiosity. If you notice children staring at a child with the disability, address the issue. “You’ve noticed that Jane has a problem with her speech. She has a speech difficulty which makes it hard for her to talk. She is very good at drawing. Maybe you could ask her to draw you a picture.”
Answer questions matter-of-factly. Avoid layering on emotion or going into detail. Responding to an enquiry about a child who has difficulty explaining what he needs, could include, “He is having some problems with his talking. He has a disability.” Watch Your words. Take care in how you describe people with disability—the children are listening. Avoid outdated, derogatory terms. Put the emphasis on the child and not the disability. Say, “the child with the language difficulty” versus “the language disabled child”. Also avoid referring to nondisabled children as ‘normal’ since it implies abnormality or a defect in others. Emphasis what’s the same. A child may be disabled but is still a child. Talk about what the child has in common e.g. same age, sport, hobby etc. Take advantage of teaching moments. If a child starts asking detailed questions, offer to help find the answers. Every time a child asks a question, it’s a chance to teach awareness and sensitivity. Be sure to
point out what the child can do, not what they can’t do. Don’t allow jokes or bullying. Children with a disability are more likely to be bullied or abused. If you hear another child refer to a child with a disability as ‘dumb’ or ‘retarded’ explain just how much those words hurt. Teach how to apologise when they hurt another child’s feelings