Disability and Children: An Interview with Ryan!
Sociability Community Member
Sep 23, 2022
Here at Sociability we like to share experiences from many perspectives, that’s why we’re grateful to be able to chat to Ryan today to learn all about his role working with children as a disabled staff member. We know that the topic of disability and children is a big one in the community, so we thought Ryan’s perspective would be an insightful one. Ryan has been a Sociability app user since the very beginning and we are so grateful for all of his support. So anyway, over to you, Ryan!
Hi Ryan! Can you please introduce yourself?
Hi I'm Ryan, an ambassador for Sociability. I'm a married father of 6 children, living with limb girdle muscular dystrophy. I've been working with children and young adults for the past 12 years. I started my career in a Nursery setting, moving onwards into a Primary School. I've worked with children from the ages of 6 months old to 14 years.
What’s it like working with children when you’re disabled?
With working in a school environment and having a disability, you need to be thick-skinned. As we all know Children and young adults often don't butter the edges when it comes to honesty and using their opinions. I have found over my time being an early year's educator in an after school club, that Children often ask more suitable and relatable questions than most adults.The other benefit I find working with children is the feedback I get from the parents. They often say how good it is to have someone with a disability in a school environment to educate their children in the best possible way of hands-on experience. That way we'll have an army of children, who are the generation of tomorrow, armed with the knowledge of what the disabled community are and need to help them through life.
What kind of questions do children mostly ask?
Children mostly are inquisitive about my wheelchair. The main questions are:
"How fast does it go?"
"How do you drive?"
"Do you sleep in a bed?"
"Can you go upstairs?"
The best comment and one that literally blew me away was - "That's a cool chair, I want one of those when I grow up!" He literally looked at it as this amazing robot machine, not a barrier.
Do you think children seeing disability in school is positive?
For me - being visible in a school, letting them ask questions in their thoughts and answering their questions honestly and truthfully is education.
The other benefit I find working with children is the feedback I get from the parents. They often say how good it is to have someone with a disability in a school environment to educate their children in the best possible way of hands-on experience. That way we'll have an army of children, who are the generation of tomorrow, armed with knowledge of what the disabled community are and need to help them through life.
Massive thank you to Ryan for sharing his experience with us. If you’d like to learn more about Sociability or disability in general, be sure to follow us on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter or LinkedIn!