It’s what’s on the inside that counts

Shelburne Community School students experienced the challenge of a physical disability during Disability Awareness Day.
Shelburne Community School students experienced the challenge of a physical disability during Disability Awareness Day.

By SCS 4th and 5th Graders Rae Kanarick, Gabe Nelson, Amelie Scharf, Zoe Klein, Parker Lemery,
and Sophie Madden

This year in guidance we learned that you should not judge people by how they appear, and that it really matters what’s on the inside, not the outside. We’re all the same in different ways!

On Monday, March 7, five panelists came and told us about their experiences with having a disability. We got to experience four different simulations that taught us what it would be like to have one of those disabilities. These disabilities include hearing loss, dysgraphia, autism, and physical disabilities.

When we heard the panelists speak, we felt very inspired. One of the speakers has a visual impairment, one of them has William’s syndrome, two of them have autism, and one has Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of autism. They talked about what it is like to have a disability. They spoke to us about their school experiences, and who made the biggest difference in their lives. They gave us advice about friendship, they told us some challenges they faced, and finally, they told us about a significant turning point in their life.

One of the simulations we experienced was a hearing loss simulation. At this station, we tried to follow the given directions, but we had to do it while wearing headphones. We learned that it is a lot harder to comprehend directions even if you only have a partial hearing loss.

Another simulation was designed to teach us what it would be like to have a physical disability. In that station we put socks on both of our hands. That made it so it felt like we had a physical disability. Then we tried to button up a shirt and unbutton it. We also tried to thread beads on a wire. It was very hard to accomplish, and we can’t imagine having to do that every day. It was so hard to button up the shirt and to put the beads on the wire.

We also experienced dysgraphia, which is a condition that makes you have trouble with writing. We tried to write with a sock on our non-dominant hand. We had to trace shapes and then re-draw them. It made it look like we were still learning how to write. If we were teachers it would be hard to understand that student’s writing.

The last simulation we experienced was an autism simulation. At this station, we watched a video on an iPad with the volume turned up all the way. We also closed our eyes and felt different textures including: sandpaper and bubble wrap. We described how it made us feel. For the second part of the station, we went through a normal day on an iPad, except everything was confusing, blurry, blotted out, loud, and wavy.

Overall, this was an amazing experience. We got to hear panelists speak about their disabilities, and we even got to experience them. We learned a very important lesson: don’t judge a book by its cover because we are all different, and that’s what makes us special!

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