On Tik Tok, a user with a disability has improvised a “best practice guide” on how to respond to children when faced with a disabled person, his video quickly going viral.
According to an INSEE survey, 12 million people have a disability in France. At the level of children, this reality is difficult to conceive and the youngest generally ask themselves many questions. We parents do not always know how to respond, for fear of hurting or stigmatizing the person targeted. However, this reaction is not the right one. On Tik Tok, Danilo Stankovic, a user with a disability himself, posted an informative video on how parents should talk to children with disabilities.
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At the sight of a person in a wheelchair, he therefore suggests not to say “Shhh. Don’t say that. Stop looking at him”, but rather : “There is nothing wrong with him … He has a disability, which just means he moves and moves in a different way. We move on our feet. He moves in a wheelchair.”. Massively shared, this video has been viewed over 1.7 million times in one day.
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A more inclusive report
By explaining disability to children rather than teaching them especially not to look at it, parents build a much more inclusive perception in their children’s minds. At the end of his video, Danilo Stankovic sets two callbacks. “Avoid using altering language and seeing disabilities as a tragedy”, a good way of saying not to visualize people with disabilities as victims, who would find themselves hurt every time we talk about their difference.
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This approach has been unanimously adopted by Internet users. “Excellent choice of words”, said one of them. “As a father of a two year old, I often get stressed out about issues like these. I want to make sure I teach them well,” or “You are a great teacher to all of us”, complimented another.
Some disabled users, often faced with “muffled” conversations, were particularly grateful. “Thank you. I’m so tired of explaining to parents that it’s not rude to point out my disabilities, and that silencing their children doesn’t teach them anything.”, commented a user. Indeed, by asking questions about disability, a child is not rude, just curious to learn more about a difference. If parents tell them not to stare at her, it sends the message that being disabled is embarrassing. Talking about and explaining the difference makes it possible to normalize it and no longer consider it as such.