God creates all people differently. And this is a wonderful gift. We are each created uniquely so that we might reflect different parts of God's character and image to the world.
Some people are born with disabilities. This means that they might live their life differently than a typical person. They might need extra help in order to move around or to learn. God created everyone differently, and we all reflect God's personality in unique ways.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. -Psalm 139:13-14
It's important to remember that, while we're all different, God doesn't make any mistakes when He creates people. There's nothing "wrong" with people with disabilities.
Every single person was created in God's image. No one was created better or worse than anyone else...we're just different.
20% of Americans have a disability. That's nearly 50 million people. Jesus spent a lot of time with people with disabilities. In fact, 25 out of the 34 miracles covered in the four Gospels are with people with disabilities. God has a heart for people with disabilities, as should we all.
Here are some practical tips:
1. Openly talk about our differences. We're all different: Some people have blonde hair, some have dark skin, some are in a wheelchair, some are left-handed, some have autism, some are good at sports - the list goes on and on. Cultivate curiosity in your child: help them learn that not everyone experiences the world the same way that they do. Learn about disabilities together.
2. Don't avoid the topic. If you are uncomfortable talking about (or to) people with disabilities, you might be subconsciously communicating to your child that disabilities bring shame and embarrassment. Don't "sshh" your child when they have questions, and don't tell them "not to stare". If you ever meet someone different than you, introduce yourself and start a conversation - don't avoid eye contact as if to de-humanize that person. If your kids have questions, encourage them to ask!
3. Remember the similarities. Typical people are far more like people with disabilities than they are unlike them. We have a lot in common, and we should discover and connect over those similar interests. And it's crucial to remember that we are all equally in need of God's grace.
4. Teach sensitivity and kindness. Create a safe place for your child to ask any question about disabilities. Answer as directly and honestly as possible. As they grow up, there's a good chance that your child will hear unkind words used to describe someone's disability. Address unkind words right away. Make it clear that speaking disrespectfully about anyone won't be tolerated.
Watch this clip of Mr. Rogers interacting with Jeff Erlanger, a young boy in a wheelchair
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood episode: Daniel's New Friend - Same and Different