Commandment 10 of Rights-Based Communication with Children: Replace DISABILITY with THISABILITY in your Dictionary of Communication with children.

Prejudice is a killer. It authors both murder and suicide. It is only that it does both in subtle installments. It has its way most of the time because of its seeming innocuous nature, yet it is insidious. One thing that is clear to me is that it takes a lot of self consciousness and mind sterilization for one not to be a victim of prejudice in every area of one’s life. Prejudice build its iron nest of in the mind of men through the process of socialisation.

When we look at the African world today, there seems to be prejudice against children with hidden ability, who are called people with disability. When a child is born differently, many parents find it difficult to be proud of the child. In some extreme cases such children are abandoned. Where they are not abandoned, they are treated as inferior. In some cases, the parents, who are their primary caregivers are not proud of them not to talk of secondary caregivers like teachers, neighbours and other stakeholders in the life of the child.

Now, this kind of prejudice hinder communication with children, who have been tagged disabled. With this kind of prejudice effective communication is impossible. That is why we have professionals, who work with children with different ability, who cannot achieve any result with them in either communicating with them or helping them to communicate effectively. That is why my intervention today is not solely in the areas of rules, though; I will be discussing only one rule, which is the father and foundation of all other rules.  The rule is that for us to communicate effectively with children, who are differently able, we must deliberately depart from the popular position of the society and replace our perception of DISABILITY with THISABILITY. We must see children in this category as people with THIS ABILITY that is not obvious to all but only few, who have deeper understating to see beyond the obvious. Permit me to share with you the inspiring graduation speech of Eli, a boy with autism, at his 6th Grade graduation ceremony, posted on http://www.huffingtonpost.com: ‘as we leave here today I have a challenge for all of you. We are all different. Not less, just different. We all have things we’re good at, things we need to work on, and things we need help with. Whenever you see someone else who is different, instead of just judging them or being a bully, I challenge you to offer help and treat that person with the kindness you have shown me over the last six years. Remember, all of you can make a difference in someone’s life. You’ve already made a difference in mine.’

I think if there is anything like DISABILITY, it the people, who tagged others disabled, who are actually disabled. They suffer from a disability, known as mental myopia. It is self-inflicted. The truth of the matter again is that a child is not disabled until the people around him convince him he is. The only disability a child will ever suffer is the one inflicted by the primary and secondary custodians. John Foppe, was born with no arms. He wrote in his book, “What’s Your Excuse?’ the role his mother played in refusing to emphasise his so-called disability. The mother knew that if he was treated differently or indulged because of his so-called disability, he would never live a normal life, hence, she decided to throw self-pity away and face the reality of the situation. John turned out well. Today, he is independent. He was trained to do everything for himself. He is not a liability to anyone.

You see that is why I have problems with specialised schools for children, who have been tagged to be disabled. When we send a child to specialised school because, he is blind, deaf or lame, you already discriminated against the child. We forget that if education is supposed to train a child for life, there is not world specially created for those, we have erroneously tagged disabled. For example, there is no bank or telecommunication companies, where only the blind and the deaf work. If we separate the child, we separate him from live forever and it is difficult for him to function in everyday society. That is why I believe wholeheartedly in INCLUSIVE EDUCATION, where children, who are tagged disabled, attend same school with their mates but receive special attention that their DIFFERENCE demands. That was the advocacy Nick Vujicic’s mother embarked upon when her child was born with no arms and legs. It was the law in Australia that children with THISABILITY could not attend same school with other children. He fought the law and by the time Nick came of age to go to school, the law had been changed.

Permit me to conclude my piece today with the testimony of grateful Nick: ‘I was born without limbs and doctors have no medical explanation for this birth  “defect”. As you can imagine, I was faced with many challenges and obstacles…Understandably, my parents had strong concern and evident fears of the  kind of life I’d be able to lead. God provided them strength, wisdom and  courage through those early years and soon I was old enough to go to
school

He concluded, ‘the law in Australia didn’t allow me to be integrated into a  main-stream school because of my physical disability. God did miracles  and gave my mom the strength to fight for the law to be changed. I was one of the first disabled students to be integrated into a main-stream  school… In my early years of school where I encountered uncomfortable times  of feeling rejected, weird and bullied because of my physical difference.  It was something very hard for me to get used to, but with the support of my parents, I started to develop attitudes and values which helped me overcome these challenging times… My mom said ‘Nick, God’s going to use you. I don’t know how. I don’t know when, but God’s going to use you.’

In conclusion, I submit that the first rule in effectively communicating with and helping children with THISABILITY to communicate effectively is the RULE OF ATTITUDE. It is the father of all rules. What does it say? It simply says: ‘remove completely, our unfounded prejudice, throw them into the sea of repentance and forgetfulness and deliberately trust God for His wisdom to see their hidden ability and treat them as normal human being.’ Many have achieved this in the past and brought out the HIDDEN ABILITY in children with THISABILITY. We too can do it…It is TIME…It starts with ME…It starts with YOU…It starts with US.

I think I should sign out here. Thank you for visiting today. Sure you learnt one or two things on how to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY and Think the FUTURE.

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