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Question for parents of children with disabilities

Hello all!

I have a query that I often discuss with my partner, to which I am very interested in hearing other people's views. It's one of those things that probably has no right or wrong answer but is to me a very important and interesting topic.

I'm very keen on the power of representation to have a positive effect on how a person views themselves and their place in society. And how a lack of representation has a massively negative effect. Seeing a vast array of people with a vast array of differences on social media and in blogs has certainly helped me to identify as a 'disabled' person and feel positive about that no less.

So to my point: I'm training to be/practicing at being an illustrator and would like to design some greetings cards for children which clearly show a child/character with a disability but that mirrors the other kinds of greeting cards available. As an example, I've seen cards of a child-character dressed as a superhero; I would like to draw that character with an obvious disability. My intention is to 'normalise' disability for children and to give children with disabilities the opportunity to see themselves in the characters on everyday things like greetings cards.

I suppose part of my question is, do you think people would shy away from buying a birthday card for a child with a disability that showed a child/character with the same disability for fear of offending/upsetting the parents? If somebody gave me a birthday card with a character on who was using a wheelchair, but say was also diving with sharks (I love sharks), then I would be ecstatic and it would go in my 'keepers' drawer! :smiley:

If you have made it all the way to the end of this post, then thanks! I would love to hear your thoughts.

Replies

  • janer1967janer1967 Member Posts: 9,329 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi, I think this is a great idea but just sending this type of card to a disabled child ONLY would to me feel like my disability was being highlighted and I was being singled out for my disability.

     I understand you are trying to demonstrate that a disability doesn't mean you cant be a super hero as such. I hope you get my point.

     As a child I wouldn't like my birthday to highlight I am disabled ? But this is just my opinion

  • laura222laura222 Member Posts: 84 Pioneering
    Hi @janer1967

    Thanks very much. It's always interesting to hear people's views on this. It's definitely a contentious one!
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi,

    It's a no from me too i'm afraid. Putting myself in the shoes of a child then i wouldn't want my birthday card showing my disability either.

    I wish you good luck though.
    Proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice I have given to members here on the community.
  • anistyanisty Member Posts: 171 Pioneering
    It could work for my son on the autistic spectrum. Ive got another son too who is able but definitely has autistic traits. When he was small, he was obsessed by electricity pylons. 

    He would have loved a card with pylons on!  But these days you have got Moonpig to design individual cards for people that might find humour in having their quirky interests represented so not sure if there would be a market in that.
  • laura222laura222 Member Posts: 84 Pioneering
    Thanks both. All views are really helpful to me!

    Love that @anisty - that's got my brain whirring about a picture with pylons in it! Your thought about Moonpig is interesting too, I'd not considered that.

    I always wonder how children view their disabilities; in the sense that they haven't been 'trained' by society to view disabilities as a negative the way that adults have.

    Do you think there's a difference in the way that children and adults think about themselves in terms of disability?
  • anistyanisty Member Posts: 171 Pioneering
    Well i think it depends on the disability. And probably much to do with self esteem and how the disabled person sees themselves. I should think (and im not disabled myself so please feel free to jump in and put me right) that disabilities which impact on a person's ability to gain enjoyment and independence in life are not going to be viewed as something to be highlighted on a card.

    If, on the other hand, someone has high self esteem, a positive self image and is managing well and leading a fulfilling life that brings them joy, they may well want to celebrate that disability and feel a pride in their life.

    I think that would be the same for adults and children. 
  • anistyanisty Member Posts: 171 Pioneering
    Ps maybe children's books about disabilities with the super hero theme might be the way to go?
  • feirfeir Member Posts: 396 Pioneering
    My son hates being disabled, he doesn't dwell on it much but when he does he wishes he was normal.
  • laura222laura222 Member Posts: 84 Pioneering
    Hi @feir

    I'm sorry your son is made to feel that way. I definitely felt the same when I was growing up. Every little perceived difference made me feel like I wasn't 'normal' and then having a disability felt like something I should be ashamed of and try to hide.

    I hope that eventually your son feels good about himself, disability included, and sees that differences are what make people stronger, more interesting and just more awesome!

    Growing up, I spent a lot of time and energy on wishing I was 'normal' but nowadays I can think of nothing worse!
  • feirfeir Member Posts: 396 Pioneering
    @laura222 I do wonder if he'd seen more disabled kids growing up then he'd think disabled is normal too.
  • laura222laura222 Member Posts: 84 Pioneering
    Hi @feir, that's exactly what motivates me to want to put more images of disability out there, so that it does become more normalised. I guess that drawings may not have a huge impact, but it's what I do so I'd like to put it to good use!

    Even if nobody ever bought something with one of my drawings on, if someone like your son saw it on a shelf next to the usual images and thought 'hey, that's a bit like me' then I'd be pretty happy. :blush:
  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    laura222 said:
    Thanks both. All views are really helpful to me!

    Love that @anisty - that's got my brain whirring about a picture with pylons in it! Your thought about Moonpig is interesting too, I'd not considered that.

    I always wonder how children view their disabilities; in the sense that they haven't been 'trained' by society to view disabilities as a negative the way that adults have.

    Do you think there's a difference in the way that children and adults think about themselves in terms of disability?
    Yes. My son always has had open spina bifida. He is now 3 years old and now only is becoming aware his legs do not work properly. We discuss all aspects of spina bifida honestly including his clubbed feet and procedures plus his medication and therapy. I’m glad that we started the discussion now rather than later. 
  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    Hello @laura222

    This is such a interesting question. I certainly believe that it depends from family to family. Personally I love birthday cards. But a birthday card with a stick figure with the same type of disability would make me queasy as it is actually not helpful. There is no need to buy such a card. Just a standard shop bought card with the words happy birthday sister or brother etc will do. Why go to such a extreme? So my answer is no. Thanks for opening up the discussion. 
  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    This is a interesting question @laura222

    Personally while I love birthday cards, I probably would resent it. In other words, I would balk and feel queasy. Why go to such a extreme? There are lots of standard birthday cards available in supermarkets and shops these days. Just buy one instead. No need to go to all that trouble. It seems a little bit weird to me. But that is only my opinion. 
  • laura222laura222 Member Posts: 84 Pioneering
    Those insights are really useful @April2018mom, thanks! I certainly don't want to do something that would make the very people I want to appeal to feel queasy! And I think you're right, something like a stick figure with the same type of disability as me would make me feel uneasy too.

    Can I ask opinions on the following:

    I did a quick drawing based on a card that I found here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Birthday-Card-Five-Year-Old/dp/B07B4HGFBH. It's a complete copy so I'm not at all suggesting that I would just make 'disabled versions' of other cards, just to be clear.

    I wanted to provide a visual example to explain that I don't intend for any of my designs to be *about* disability, but that I'd like them to be included in the 'normal' range.

    Would this kind of thing make people feel uneasy?

    This is the original card from Amazon (super-cute!):


    This is my (very quickly) drawn version:


    All opinions welcome!
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