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A Parent's Guide to Teaching Kids Inclusivity

I often receive a question that touches my heart deeply: "How do I teach my children to interact with people with disabilities?" I encourage you to explore the S.T.A.R.S. approach -- which can help nurture compassion, understanding, and acceptance in your children:

S: See the person; underneath the disability are wants, desires, goals, and dreams!

T: Talk to the person (not the caregiver) -- even if they are nonverbal, they want to be talked to!

A: Ask them a simple question and wait for them to respond. Look for communication cues like eye contact, smiling, and/or nodding.

R: Repeat what they said, acknowledging you understand!

S: Smile, compliment, connect!

Relax! You don't have to know everything. Like any skill, interacting with people with disabilities gets easier with practice. Encourage your children to engage with diverse individuals and experiences. The more they practice, the more comfortable and confident they will become in fostering inclusivity and acceptance. Your family can get involved at ESP as a way to immerse your children (and yourself!) in a community of inclusion.

Support for Nonverbal Individuals: If the person your child wishes to connect with is nonverbal, you can apply the same principles. Let technology, physical cues, or a communication partner serve as their voice. Your children can still initiate conversations, ask questions, and engage with these individuals, ensuring they are heard and included.

Teaching your children to interact with people with disabilities is a valuable lesson in compassion, understanding, and acceptance. By following the S.T.A.R.S. approach, you can help your children build meaningful connections and contribute to a more inclusive world. Remember, it's all about seeing the person, not just the disability, and nurturing the seeds of hope in our children for a brighter, more inclusive future.


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