Recently Special Needs Book Review posted about a wonderful book for children titled Jolly Molly Dolly by Julia Kay O’Connor. This book is not only great for children with disabilities but it helps all children learn about therapy equipment available to make the lives of others with challenges easier.
Julia O’Connor is the Integrated Services Coordinator at an outstanding special needs school. She strongly believes that every child, regardless of any disability, should achieve the best in everything they do. She took part in our Author Interview Series and in this post we share some of her awesome responses she wrote for our interview.
Disability Diversity in the Toy-box
Lorna: These past few years I’ve been reading articles about disability diversity in the toy-box. Many believe that classrooms should have among the toys for students to play with dolls, Lego figures, etc. with physical disabilities, along with their toy wheelchairs, crutches, hearing aids, eye glasses, therapy dog, foot braces, etc. Then others believe they would only make kids with disabilities worst of. What is your opinion on this?
<< Julia Kay O’Connor: I think that at the age where children are playing with a massive variety of toys, their brains are little sponges; they soak in everything. If dolls with physical disabilities, toy wheelchairs, crutches, hearing aids etc. are just part of their normal toy box, they will always be seen as just part of an ordinary society. If children get used to seeing Lego figures and dolls with physical disabilities, they are more likely to grow up in a world of acceptance. They may also learn empathy for other children and disability would just be seen as everyday reality, as it is.
For children with disabilities, these toys will help them realize that they are the same as everyone else. I deliberately put leg splints, specialist boots, a colourful wrist splint and glasses on Molly, the therapy doll and lots of children say, ‘look, Molly’s got the same shoes/splints as me.’
Children Who Complete & Color Our World
Lorna: The inside cover of Jolly Molly Dolly has a colourful rainbow page and the words ‘for all the children who complete and colour our world.’ This is such a beautiful sentiment! What are a few things you would like to see happen in our society that would make the lives of individuals with disabilities and their caregivers easier?
<< Julia Kay O’Connor: I would love to see a far greater level of understanding and acceptance in society. People should embrace uniqueness and begin to realize just how much you can learn from a child with special needs. Wow, look at the determination, look at the bravery, look at how hard they try, look at what they can achieve, see that smile in their eyes, look at all the trust and love they have for the people around them. Don’t look away because you’re unsure what to say, or it’s easier just to talk to the adult pushing a wheelchair. By looking away, you are the one who is missing out.
Children with special needs really do add a whole different level to our world. Every morning when I go to work, I can’t wait to see the joy in their faces and listen to all the things they can say, verbally or non-verbally and get a chance to be a small part of their world. For people who live or work with special needs children, they will understand this and no explanation is necessary.
For caregivers at home, I always think of that saying, ‘not all superheroes wear capes.’ For people who see these parents as having a special needs child as a burden, they need to understand that although this isn’t the route the parents had planned, their child is a blessing who has changed their hearts. These parents have traveled with them through immensely brave journeys. They have cried tears of happiness when milestones have been met and had many sleepless nights. If you ask any parent of a special needs child if they’d do it all again, they’d always say, ‘yes’. Don’t be a stranger and just let them into your heart. Your life will be enhanced beyond words.