Learning About People With Disabilities Through Today’s Children

Hello Friends! No matter what is going on in the world or even in my own life, I can always count on the beautiful innocence of a child when I am presenting at an elementary school. They have no filtration system. Whatever thought, idea, or even more powerful, a question, they are going to let it fly. You see, our children on many different levels are fearless and the only thing they are interested in doing is learning more about this wonderful world we live in. They know no boundaries, even when it comes to scouring the earth to find answers when it comes to people with disabilities.

For the last 12 years, I have been a motivational speaking, addressing people from all walks of life, including 5-10 year olds. After each and every presentation for this age group, I always conduct a ‘Question and Answer” session that is usually a 15 minute portion of the program. The funny thing is that it could easily be a 15-hour process based on variety of questions that kids have for me. There has never been a time with this age group, in which you could hear crickets in the background. That can happen from time to time with Q&A’s with adults and only because they are afraid to ask many of the same questions which youngsters have. They are just as curious, if not more at times, but as we grow older, we proceed with too much caution if you ask me, and refrain from asking truly innocent questions.

Answering kids disability questionsKids simply don’t care if they make you laugh, cry, squirm, you name it with their questions because they are just curious. They absorb everything around them, especially something like a disability that is so far off most of their radars. For me, I love it! I love their innocence and they constant and never-ending desire to learn more about the world in which they live. Do their questions make me squirm a little from time to time? Absolutely. Has a child brought me to tears of laughter and also tears of sadness? Most certainly…and I would not have it any other way. Since 2000, I have spoken to over 200,000 children in this age range and I am still caught off guard from time to time…and I love it.

When I traveled around the world, I would constantly have children approach me with the most fascinating questions to which I would take the time and answer them as honestly as I could. Very often, I find myself pausing before I answer their questions because I really need to think about the answer. This is not because I need to phrase my answer in the most appropriate way…that is a given. What I really find myself doing is searching far and wide for an answer to a question that I usually have not been asked before. Yes, after 12 years of doing this, it still happens and happens more often than not.

So with that being said, drum roll please, as I unveil the Top 10 Most Fascinating Questions I Have Ever Been Asked by a Child (in no particular order):
1. Do you sleep in your wheelchair?
2. Would you feel it if I kicked you really hard in the leg?
3. What would happen if you really tried to take a step and walk again?
4. How do you get dressed?
5. Could you beat LeBron James in a one-on-one basketball game if he was put in a wheelchair?
6. How come you are still moving your feet and legs when you told us you couldn’t? (This was a classic as I was getting a bunch of spasms during that particular presentation)
7. Do you think you could beat my Grandpa in a race? He is in a wheelchair too.
8. What do you think you would be doing now if you were never in a wheelchair?
9. How do you take a shower? Does someone have to hose you down in the backyard?
10. What do you believe the reason is that you are in a wheelchair? I believe that everything happens for a reason. (Just asked this the other day by a 5th grader)

Now do you understand why I must compose myself and take my time to answer their questions? Never turn down a little innocent angel when he or she has a question. For that matter, never turn down a question from anyone. Go into your heart, locate your courage, and share your experiences that will translate into another human being gaining more knowledge about this mysterious world of disabilities. Enjoy the journey!

What is one of the most fascinating questions that you’ve been asked by a child? How did you answer it?

Photo Courtesy of Hubert K

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