Do you know someone with “different abilities”?

December 21st, 2014 | By Marjie No Comments

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One of the major changes in the area of human services right now is to try to get people to start thinking of people with “different abilities” instead of “disabilities.” After all, people who use wheelchairs have the ability to move from one place to another, to drive a car, to play sports, and more. They just do it “differently” than someone who does NOT use a wheelchair. And some people with intellectual abilities may have to think through math problems and look at football playbooks with different guidance than someone withOUT an intellectual ability, but they are still able to consider the information in front of them.

So when it comes to adapting our playtime – from playing organized sports to running around the playground … from gathering for a neighborhood kickball game to planning a birthday party game – it would be great if all of us would consider how to include everyone.

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Some things to consider when you’re organizing an activity that involves a diverse group of people:

  • Can everyone get to the activity? Are there stairs or curbs or pieces of furniture that may need to be overcome by someone with a mobility issue or someone who uses a wheelchair?
  • How can every person be included in play? For instance, if you’re having a swim party, can you have it at a location with a pool lift for anyone who needs that assistance? Or if you’re planning a laser tag party, will there be light-up devices for those who have hearing impairments?
  • When is your activity? Do you need to consider having the activity on a weekend, when children with an intellectual disability may be able to have a parent accompany them? That would help them feel more comfortable and give you the security of having someone there who can provide support for the children.
  • Who might be excluded if you have this activity? Are you going to a multi-level playplace? If all your friends cannot access the ball pit or the tunnels, how would you feel about re-thinking that location? It’s your party, but will it be just a little less fun if every friend cannot be with you?

We are lucky that we have more and more awareness of and support for people with “different abilities.” Our children go to school with kids who experience challenges we cannot begin to understand. The more aware we can be, and the more accessible we can make their everyday activities, the more rewarding all of our lives will be!

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