“In this young listeners’ edition of her acclaimed memoir, Being Heumann, Judy shares her journey of battling for equal access in an unequal world - from fighting to attend grade school after being described as a “fire hazard” because of her wheelchair, to suing the New York City school system for denying her a teacher’s license because of her disability."
"Living with the use of one's eyes can make imagining blindness difficult, but this innovative title invites readers to imagine living without sight through remarkable illustrations done with raised lines and descriptions of colors based on imagery."
"Imagine you were asked the same question again and again throughout your life . . . This is the experience of one-legged Joe, a child who just wants to have fun in the playground . . . Constantly seen first for his disability, Joe is fed up of only ever being asked about his leg. All he wants to do is play Pirates."
Whether you are a parent looking to have an in-depth conversation about disability culture with your child, or a teacher looking to add diversity to your curriculum, the My Dearest Friends Project can help.
We recognize discussing disability with your child can be somewhat difficult. Here are some ways you can introduce these important topics to your child:
This worksheet can be used to help K-3 students to navigate their thoughts and feelings about disability. Children in this age group tend to process the world through a creative lens, so the majority of the sheet is taken up by a space for them to create a drawing. You may wish to guide your students through the submission process, outlined in our call for youth submissions above, before beginning the worksheet.
This worksheet can be used to help 5-8th grade students to navigate their thoughts and feelings about disability. It provides ample space for students to write about their experiences. You may wish to guide your students through the submission process, outlined in our call for youth submissions above, before beginning the worksheet. Although this worksheet does not include a space for art, students are encouraged to include a drawing with their submission.
This coloring sheet worksheet explains that service animals are animals trained to help people with disabilities. Children love learning that dogs are not the only animals that perform service work (miniature horses can also be service animals!) They respond well to learning about the differences between emotional support animals, therapy animals, and service dogs. Playing guessing games about where each animal is allowed is a great way to teach kids the differences (for instance, only service animals are allowed in the grocery store!).
This worksheet tackles invisible disabilities. A wheelchair is a common symbol for disability. It appears everywhere--the media, books, even on accessible entrances and parking signs. Mobility aids should be celebrated, however, disability looks different for everyone and not every disabled person uses a mobility aid. It is important for children to remember that they cannot always see if someone is disabled-- They should be kind to everyone, and be aware that physical and mental differences cannot always be seen from the outside.
At the My Dearest Friends Project, we value identity-first language. This looks like “disabled person”. For us, being disabled is a political and social identity as well as a medical reality. To us “person with a disability” sounds like “person with gayness” or “person with whiteness”. Although these statements aren’t wrong, there’s something clunky and a bit dehumanizing about them.
However, we also recognize that not everyone in the disability community feels this way. Others may prefer to use different language to describe their experiences. In particular, families on this journey may currently choose to use person-first language or even euphemisms in their conversations. Navigating life with a disability is complicated enough without splitting hairs. The voices of disabled children are too valuable to dismiss simply because they talk about disability in a certain way.
Thus, while we will always encourage people to use identity-first language and amplify the voices of those who do, we will not censor submissions that use person-first language, euphemisms, or any other method of talking about disability.
Disability can be a sticky subject, especially between nondisabled parents and their disabled children. If you are still figuring out how you would like to navigate conversation around the topic with your children, we’re here to help!
We think that it is very important to normalize disability as much as possible.
We should be careful to avoid using euphemisms like “differently abled” or “special abilities”. Disability is not sad or wrong, it just is!
We find that this guide by Caroline Bologna for the HuffPost is full of great tips to get started
As of 2021, disability history is not regularly taught in American schools. It's important to learn about disability history and culture directly from disabled individuals! The My Dearest Friends team offers educational workshops to schools and nonprofits looking to teach today's youth about disability.
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