Recently I have spent time with young children, which isn’t something I do a lot of. With young children come questions and sometimes (actually most of the time) I am not sure how to answer their questions. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that they ask the questions because it gives me the opportunity to teach them in the hope that they will grow up to be more tolerant of people with disabilities, but I am just not sure how to answer them.

Take the other day for example. I was with a friends 4 year old boy who I’ll call T. We had the following conversation.

T Why are you in that chair?

K Because I have cerebral palsy and that means I can’t walk like you can.

T why?

K because my legs don’t work properly

Now the next why? Was the first place I got stuck. How do you explain the mechanics of CP to a 4 year old even if they are a bright 4 year old? I was saved from answering when T’s mum came back but I would have liked to answer him. I just wasn’t sure how to?

Later that day T and I had another conversation about how I did stuff like sleep & eat and play games and I was fine answering it all until he asked how I went to the toilet. While the obvious answer was the same way as everybody else I knew that was not exactly what T meant. I took him into the bathroom and showed him how I transfer to and from the toilet. Then the questions started again? Why do I need rails? What happens if I fall down? What if my mummy and daddy aren’t home? While T seemed to be satisfied with the answers I gave him to those questions, I wasn’t. I felt I could have answered them better but I am not sure how.

How do other people answer children’s questions?

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