We hope that you and your family enjoy these discussion cards. They were designed to spark discussion and debate around disability and belonging.
Tanya teaches that every person has a soul which is a "Chelek Elokah Mimal Mamash" - a piece of G-d himself. This means that every single person has a Neshama, a special SOUL that was sent down to earth for a specific purpose & that every single person is needed. If we want a healthy community, we need to make sure that everyone is included. Thats why, every word we use is an opportunity to show openness and respect for each individual.
Sally uses a wheelchair and you want to help her out... Do you push her?
Sally's wheelchair acts like her "legs". It is her mobility device; you can't decide to push it on your own accord. It may make her feel less abled. If she can push herself around, she is independent. She just travels differently. If you think someone in a wheelchair needs help, always ask permission.
I want to talk to someone who has a disability that has a support person with them. Who should I chat to - a) the person with a disability or b) their support person?
A support person is there to ensure a person with a disability can be supported in ways that they need. They are not their "voice".You should always address the person directly and give them time to respond.
Josh always plays by himself for hours on end. Every conversation you have with him, he only wants to talk about is one thing. Should we just leave him to play by himself in the corner?What is the best way to interact with Josh?
Try "meeting" Josh in "his world". Engage in his interests and expand your mindset to include what Josh is interested in. If we expand and extend ourselves, we can learn so much.
Jimmy has started crying quite often at school. He sits alone during playtime and you can see that he is sad. What should you do?
Be gentle, tender and kind. Just being a friend to someone is often the most helpful thing you can be. Reach out. Sometimes, someone is depressed because something has happened, and sometimes they are struggling with mental health. Bring it to the attention of someone who you feel could provide good support.
Be supportive, make it easier for them but don't force them. Bring it to the teacher's attention. Reach out and be inclusive. Being empathetic to her needs means that you will be patient and understanding with her. Always choose to be kind.
Each person has their own preference on how they want to communicate. Respect their choice. Everyone has equal rights to express themselves and be heard, no matter how they choose to communicate. They may choose to use language, devices, sign language, facial expressions and hand movements or a combination of them all. Be open and accepting of all forms of communication by honouring each person's choices.
Everybody is different and each person has their own challenges. Disability is not always obvious or visible. Don't judge people - everyone has a story. Everyone is a soul - created equally. You may not know what they are going through. You are never sure why someone is behaving or acting in a certain way. You may not understand why they are acting that way. Show them that you care.
Empathy vs Pity
When you feel bad for someone with a disability because of their challenges, that can come across as pity, which is demeaning. People with disabilities live full lives. Respect each person by showing love, support, care and concern without pitying them. Be empathetic by trying to see the world as others may see it - how it may feel if you were that person? Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. By imaging how it feels to be in their position, you can better understand what they might be feeling.
Make sure not to leave them out because of fear. Dispel fear surrounding disability by asking questions and making enquiries. Get all the info you can from them / their parents and then invite them taking into consideration their specific needs. Inclusion is a verb - a DOING word that involves facilitating for the person with the disability and making sure you are able to make a person comfortable and safe at your event.
Just because you have researched a disability online, it doesn't mean you really know the person! Each person is an individual with their own personality. Learn more about each person by getting to know them as an individual, reach out, become their friend. Keep in mind some of the facts you have learnt, but don't automatically apply to each person. While it's great that you are interested in finding out more about your classmate's disability, a simple Google search will not be able to tell you about him.