Children living with disabilities should be allowed to live a normal life like their peers.
From time immemorial, children born with disabilities, be it speech, learning, or physical disabilities, have been short-changed as they go through life, with very few facilities and services having them in mind.
An estimated 1.3 billion people which is roughly about 16% of the world’s population are living with one form of disability or the other. Some of these disabilities include; hearing impairment, physical disability, vision impairment, learning disability, Autistic Spectrum Disorders, and a host of other forms of disabilities.
Children with disabilities often face challenges when it comes to socialising and connecting with their peers.
These children often wonder how their lives will pan out since the system doesn’t support them to live a well-rounded life. Apart from this concern, they are also faced with the challenge of co-existing with other children without experiencing some form of discrimination.
However, by bridging the gap between these children and their typically developing peers, we can provide them with hope for a brighter future.
How to Bridge the Gap in Children Living with Disabilities
Ways that this can be achieved include;
1. Provision of Services to Accommodate Children Living with Disabilities
Adequate services such as physical therapy, speech-language pathology, and general health care should be provided for children with disabilities. Schools can bring in health professionals to cater to their students with special needs.
Also, specialised therapies should be provided to cater to them. Disabled children should take part in games and other social activities to improve their social life and foster all-round inclusion.
2. Bridge the Communication Gap Between Children Living with Disabilities and their Immediate Environment
Communication is the bedrock of our human existence. Imagine a world without the ability to speak with your family and friends. Then imagine how disabled children feel when they are left out of the communication system.
All members of society should be taught how to effectively relate with disabled children. From getting conversant with emotional cues, having basic knowledge about different forms of disabilities, and spreading the gospel about eliminating discrimination among these children.
Seminars and workshops can also be organised at regular intervals to keep the community updated and improve inclusiveness.
3. Enact Laws to Accommodate Children with Disabilities
Disabled children will benefit immensely if the laws that govern their countries of residence are made with them in mind. Just like when the Nigerian Senate passed the Persons with Disability Bill into law.
These bills contain provisions against maltreatment, discrimination, the right to education, health care, protection of their civil rights, and other benefits that the average man gets. These laws help to keep the general public in check.
4. Inclusive Education is the Way to Go
Inclusive education aims to bring all children irrespective of mental, physical, or emotional barriers into one classroom. This system of education also allows children, irrespective of language or background, to learn and grow together.
Inclusive education gives disabled children the opportunity to learn and build communities with their peers. Doing this raises awareness about certain conditions and reduces discrimination experiences.
5. Incorporate Disability History in Curriculum Development
Learning about the history of a concept makes you better equipped to excel in it. Just like political analysts put past political occurrences under a microscope before making assumptions for the future, our curriculum can take a trip down memory lane regarding disability.
Outstanding individuals like Stephen Hawking, Hellen Keller, and Stevie Wonder performed exceptionally in their chosen fields. Doing this will boost their morale and encourage other kids to see them in a different light.
6. Encourage Social Inclusiveness of Children Living with Disabilities
To effectively bridge the gap in children living with disabilities, our government, stakeholders, and the general public should organise activities that encourage social inclusiveness.
Parachute games, trust games, and puzzles can be incorporated to suit children with disabilities. This helps them to form bonds and make friends while having fun thereby bridging the gap.
The journey to bridging the gap with children with disabilities is a continuous one with bumps along the way. With dedication, patience, and perseverance, our society is sure to become one where disabled children have a fun-filled experience in life.
Researched by: Safiya Onayi Ahmed