Discussing Disability With Ieuan

What’s the best way of discussing disability with children?

For the first time today, Ieuan has noticed CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell does not have a full right arm. Why today I’ve no idea, but it meant that I felt compelled to talk about disability with him.

discussing disability with children - CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell
CBeebies Presenter Cerrie Burnell

Such is the minefield of political correctness surrounding issues of race, gender and ability these days, I was surprised to find myself struggling to explain. Since my son starts reception tomorrow though, I felt today was a very good time to talk.

Cerrie Burnell is actually a bit of an inspiration, despite the ridiculous parental prejudices which came to the fore via numerous complaints when she was first appointed by the BBC in 2009.  Born with a right arm which stops at the elbow, Burnell stopped wearing a prosthetic arm aged 9. Despite also having dyslexia, her accomplishments while growing up included joining the army cadets and working at a leprosy clinic in India. Cerrie now has a young daughter, born in 2008.

So what did I say to Ieuan?  I said that sometimes we are born with bits of our body not working (I wear glasses and now have a hearing aid) and that if all our body works we should feel very lucky. I told him that it does not matter if a bit of your body does not work, everyone is special and should be treated with kindness.  It’s what’s inside and how we behave that matters most.

I’m not sure I got it right.   Discussing disability with children needs to be handled gently, compassionately and openly. What would you have said?


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