Inspired by my disability experience, I would like to create children’s books to educate and help children during their developmental years (3-8) with or without disabilities, as a form of self-awareness.
Parenting with chronic pain has really opened my eyes to things I wouldn’t have taken so deeply on board before.
For example, when me and my son were out shopping the other day, he pointed at someone in a wheelchair.
I felt so bad as I hadn’t taught my son about children with differences. It just never came to mind.
Seeing that situation made me question myself as a mother: how would I feel if my son was being pointed at? And also, how would he feel if he was being pointed at?
During the past five years my son has started to ask more and more question about my own health conditions too. For example, “Why you always at the hospital?”, “Is your stomach better now?” and “Why can’t you run around with me?”
It must be confusing and upsetting for him, as it is for any child who is experiencing a parent being unwell physically or mentally, or both.
But I think helping them understand disability in a bit more of a child-friendly way could help to minimise the distress they may feel.
More than one billion people in the world live with some form of disability, of whom nearly 200 million experience considerable difficulties in functioning.
In the years ahead, disability will be an even greater concern, because its prevalence is on the rise. This is due to ageing populations and the higher risk of disability in older people as well as the global increase in chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental health disorders.
It’s important that we are more aware of all types of disabilities and conditions, including mental health issues and invisible illness. I hope it will close the sometimes negative perception gap that exists out there.
For the past few months, I have been interviewing parents with invisible illnesses, mental health problems and disabilities, many of who also have children.
During most of my interviews, the majority of people felt like they are deeply judged by other members of society.
I feel the reason behind unfair treatment towards people with long-term health conditions or disabilities is due to lack of knowledge.
We are not taught these things in school, and due to our own parents’ lack of knowledge, we are not taught by our parents either.
Power of education
People tend to view conversations about disabilities and long-term health conditions as negative or uncomfortable. But they should be embraced as powerful and educational.
By creating these books, I am hoping to give children that have a disability or long-term health conditions and children that have parents and other family members who have impairments, more awareness and self-awareness so that they can have a healthier perception and greater understanding.
From a young age, this will ensure that their confidence and self-esteem grows, so they can feel empowered to take on the world.
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