On Monday, we used our online, private chat room, https://todaysmeet.com/, to share ideas of what it means to be disabled. Here is what some of our students said:
When you lose the ability to do something — Medhir
When you cannot do something that other people can — Luis
When you have brain problems — Mikayla
A disability is when a person is missing one of their body parts — Rimsha
When you are not able to do something (Paralyzed, Blind, Deaf, Mute, Cant Walk, etc.) — Emma
When you can not do something that most people can do — Atiya
You need a lot of help from people. — Erin
Something like you’re in a wheel chair — Lauren
You have to stay in bed — Mekaal
When asked what you cannot do when you have a disability, many of the obvious activities were mentioned. When asked what you can do, some of the most beautiful ideas came from a few of the kids:
Be amazing — Medhir
Be really happy — Mohit
You can do anything even though you are disabled but you are still a human — Rimsha
Sometimes have a miracle — Liam
Then, in partners, the kids read books about disabled adults or children, identifying what disabled people can and cannot do. It was very interesting for them to discover that the items on their “Can Do” list far outweighed the ones on their “Cannot Do” list.
On Wednesday, they did learn that when you are disabled, you “sometimes have a miracle.” That miracle, for our class, came in the form of Kathy Bromley and her daughter, Shannon.
Kathy is a very good friend of mine. Shannon was born with Angelman Syndrome. After sharing with the class only this information. They came up with a multitude of questions to ask Shannon and her mom. Here is the final list we ended up sending to Kathy prior to our Skype conversation:
What is Angelman Syndrome?
How did you get Angelman syndrome?
How did you know you had the disability?
How old were you when you found out you had the Angelman Syndrome?
With Angelman syndrome what can you not do?
Will the syndrome affect Shannon’s lifespan ? (last her whole life?)
What part of her body can’t Shannon move?
What was your reaction when you found out she had a disability?
Does it hurt? (Does the syndrome cause you pain?)
Can Shannon talk?
How does Shannon get around and up steps?
Shannon, do you eat as much as most people ?
Do you need a lot of medicine and help to get out of bed?
Do you like to read?
Do you read Harry Potter books?
Does Shannon go to school?
Does this disability affect your education?
How do you FEEL when your at school?
What do you do in your daily life?
What do you like to do most?
Do you still do any sports?
How do you play sports?
Can you do something special that other people can’t do?
What do you do every day?
How do people react to your disability?
Do people ever disclude you from games because you have a disability?
Kathy, how does this disability affect your life?
What medical services do you receive?
Are there any child rights that are violated for you?
How many of your rights are upheld?
During the 70 minutes we spent with Shannon and Kathy, our class was highly engaged, intrigued, sensitive, caring and supportive. The unexpected bonus was their opportunity to see Kathy speak while signing, as she is also a teacher of the hearing impaired.
Please make sure to ask your child what we learned about Shannon, her family, her friends, her disabilities and, more importantly, her abilities. Here are a few more links that you and your child might find interesting:
Shannon playing softball: