Children's Books for Special Needs: Disability

Barnardos & Fingal County Libraries. (2000). Children's Books for Special Needs: Disability.
Kate and Laura are sisters; Kate is 12 years, Laura is 10 years. They get on well together, and enjoy doing things together – listening to music, going shopping for clothes with Mum, trips to McDonalds and the cinema. But Kate sometimes feels left out – she cannot always go on these trips. Kate has Cerebral Palsy and needs to use a wheelchair to get around – she cannot walk. If they need to take a bus trip, Kate has to stay at home with Dad. The buses don't have ramps to accommodate her wheelchair so she cannot go on a bus. Kate can only go to certain shops, cinemas and other buildings because not everywhere is wheelchair accessible. Everyone feels sad about this. It doesn't seem fair. Laura sometimes feels bad for Kate. She hears other children make fun of people with special needs and never knows what to say. She has talked to her Mum about this. Mum has told Laura that children do this sometimes because they don't know any better. They probably feel awkward because they have not been around people with disabilities. They may feel nervous or afraid and don't know how to act. They might think that making someone else feel bad will help them to feel better. People who tease are only looking at how the person with a disability is on the outside. They don't know them and don't realise that they have the same feelings as everyone else. Laura knows this because she knows Kate, she realises that although Kate uses a wheelchair, she is still like everyone else and deserves the same respect. Others need to learn this. In our society, people with disabilities are still excluded and discriminated against. There are many reasons for this. We live in an unequal society and the less powerful are oppressed by more dominant groups. Historically, people's attitude towards the disabled has been one of pity and charity; disabled people have been segregated and excluded. By marginalising disabled people, they are denied the possibility of realising their full potential. Indeed it is often not their disability that prevents them from participating in society to the full, but the injustice and attitudes of others. Today, in more enlightened times, things are changing but we still have a responsibility to highlight discrimination and endeavour to change society's attitude. We can start by educating our children.