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There’s a new kids’ book about disabilities releasing today — and it should be required reading for all kids, because inclusivity matters so very much. Acceptance can make all the difference for a child who might otherwise be treated differently, and can act as a shield against bullying (and its heartbreaking consequences, like depression, anxiety, and isolation). Educating our kids on disabilities and ways to include their disabled peers is so important. The ABCs of Inclusion: A Disability Inclusion Book for Kids is the perfect way to introduce the concepts and begin to normalize disability — and it’s never too soon to start.
“Children as young as 1½ or 2 will verbalize that they see a physical difference in another child,” says Becky Bell Scott, faculty member at Baylor University’s Master of Social Work program online. “We need to follow the curiosity. We need to not shame that and instead help make sense of it, normalize it, and talk about what is the same between them and the person they’re observing for the first time.”
The ABCs of Inclusion: A Disability Inclusion Book for Kids was written by Beth Leipholtz, the mother of a deaf son and an advocate for accessibility and inclusion. In Leipholtz’s new book, we meet 26 kids with various disability diagnoses such as autism, Down syndrome, hearing loss, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, diabetes, limb differences, and more. Each diagnosis is explained in simple and easy-to-understand terms — but most importantly, The ABCs of Inclusion teaches kids that despite our differences, we have so much more in common.
Every step we can take toward a more inclusive and accessible world is a meaningful one. Empathy and kindness go a long way, and the earlier and more often we can emphasize this to our kids — and teach them that disabilities don’t define a person — the better. Demystifying disability and opening up conversations about it by reading books like The ABCs of Inclusion is an ideal place to start.
“To so many people, [disability] remains a mystery, this very scary and overwhelming topic,” disability rights activist and writer Emily Ladau told NPR. “We don’t talk about it. We ignore it. We shy away from it. We hide it away. But that’s not what we should do when it comes to disability, because it’s just something that’s part of what makes people who they are.”
Before you go, check out these celebrity parents who have opened up about raising kids with disabilities.
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