Have you ever wondered what it is like for someone who has a disability or
is handicapped? Sew Dolling wants to help you understand what it means
to be a person with a disability by educating you on what it is and how to
act around those who have disabilities.
A disability is a condition that puts someone at a disadvantage; it is
usually caused by trauma, accident, disease or genetics. Sometimes, a
disability can limit a person’s hearing, mobility, vision, speech, or mental
/ cognitive function.
Disorders that can Disable a Person:
Cerebral Palsy – An umbrella term for non
contagious neurological disorders that cause disability in human
movement, posture and other development. People with Cerebral Palsy
sometimes have physical and speech disabilities.
Autism – Developmental disability caused by
a disorder to the human central nervous system. People with autism often
have delayed responses but other symptoms vary greatly. Most people with
autism are physically indistinguishable with those who do not have this
Down’s Syndrome – Genetic disorder usually
caused by an extra 21st chromosome. A lower than average cognitive
ability is usually a disability of Down’s Syndrome. Education and proper
care can lead to a greater quality of life for those with this
Muscular Dystrophy – Hereditary disease that
weakens skeletal muscles, defects muscle proteins, and kills muscle
cells and tissue. This disease can limit range of motion, make walking
difficult, and produce a functional disability. Orthopedic instruments
like walking stands and wheelchairs are sometimes helpful for people
with Muscular Dystrophy.
The Difference Between
Disability & Handicap
Sometimes, the terms handicap and disability are used
interchangeably, however, there are differences. As defined above, a
disability is a condition or disorder usually caused by an accident,
genetics, disease or trauma. A handicap, on the other hand, is a
mental / attitudinal or physical constraint that is put on a person.
Someone that is handicapped may not have a disability.
Etiquette: Tips on How to Act
Around Someone in a Wheelchair*
The number one thing you should do when speaking to
someone who is in a wheelchair, is focus on the person, and
not on the disability.
Make eye contact with the person – If you
are going to be talking for more than a couple of minutes, pull up a
chair so you are eye level with the person you are speaking with.
Always ask the person in the wheelchair if they
need assistance before helping. They could very well be
capable of the exact thing you were going to help them out with.
Speak directly to the person in the
Don’t automatically classify the person as sick
or that their life is now a tragedy. Most wheelchairs give a person
with a disability much more freedom that they had without it.
Know the person’s capabilities - some people
with disabilities who are in wheelchairs can walk with assistance.
Let children ask questions about the
wheelchair: This will keep the lines of communication open and reduce or
Don’t pat a wheelchair user on the head.
This can be degrading or humiliating to the person.
Teaching Children Early:
Disability Awareness Programs
More and more hospitals and elementary schools are now
embracing and teaching disability awareness. Educational tools,
play therapy dolls
and toys, lesson plans and activities are geared towards recognizing and
teaching young ones about the different disabilities. These tools can help
children better understand what it means to be disabled as well as show the
strengths and weaknesses possessed by people with disabilities.
Sew Dolling®’s Patented Sew Able® Play Therapy Dolls are a great disability
awareness toy for children. They show young ones that everyone is beautiful
and ABLE, no matter their illnesses, condition, or disability. Many
hospitals including Shriner’s Hospitals for Children, St. Jude Children’s
Research Hospital, The Jimmy Fund, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the
Chicago Institute of Rehabilitation are also using our
Sew Able® Dolls
to help brighten the days of their young patients.
* based on Ric Garren’s article in Challenge Magazine