Thursday, March 13, 2014

teaching fear.

little has been getting better and better at walking in her gait trainer.  as a result, we have been taking it everywhere with us.  library.  church.  any time that she could play with peers, I try to drag it along.  I ended up getting a placard for the car so that I could easily maneuver a five year old, carry a toddler, and push the trainer across a parking lot (usually covered in snow and ice right now).
as a result, I want to share something with you.  this isn't because i'm angry.  it's not because I think that everyone should know this already.  it's because, I want others to know this.

your child, can touch my daughter's gait trainer.  they can touch her while she's in it.  i can't speak for all parents, but i imagine if you see a child with some sort of device, all you need to do is say, 'is it okay for my child to touch that?' or even, 'can you explain that to my daughter and i?' 

when you freak out, and pull your child away, or tell him not to touch the gait trainer (or my child), you are teaching fear.  you aren't meaning to, i know.  but, you just told your child that people who are different, and who use different devices, are scary, stay away!  and when you tell them not to look, or stare, you are saying the same thing.  children are curious.  to be quite honest, so are adults (just remember that i expect adults to be able to phrase questions in tactful manners).  and while there are, without doubt, days that i don't really want to answer and advocate, i'll still do it.  i have a whole host of kids who are in love with shilo because we haven't made her off limits.  she's just another kid.
if you let your child look, ask questions, explore, and learn, he will learn that my child is, just another child.  he will learn that she just needs extra help learning to walk.  he might even learn things like why some kids eat through a tube in their stomach instead of their mouths, or about a million other medical devices that children have.  and, without even meaning to, you will have empowered your child.
because one day, your child will be out in the world, and there will be other people who look different, act different, or have different things they use to help them throughout their day.  and it's likely, if you've started very young explaining things, and allowing them to ask questions, that they will step up and be a friend while others are afraid and unsure.

please don't teach fear. 


  1. So well stated. We see that so many times when T's using his walker or power chair in the public. T's even answered the questions when the kids ask the parent "What is that for?".

  2. Great post to teach us all how to encourage approach and relate to differences. I confess to not knowing when it's ok to ask questions and when it would seem intrusive. I was curious about gait trainers and found some great images of the wide variety of options...very remarkable, what they can design to help kids and adults who need assistance! Would love to see a photo of Shiloh in her trainer, the little cutie!
    Nancy in the Midwest