This week I am super excited to share this heartwarming and educational conversation with children’s book author, speech pathologist, and inclusion advocate Macy Gilson! Macy is sharing tips for addressing uncomfortable conversations with your kids and raising kind and inclusive children.
Macy found her passion to help those with communication deficits when she decided to study sign language in college. Macy now works as a speech pathologist online with kids in rural areas who don’t have the resources or time to meet in person. She works with both children and adults with a multitude of different diagnoses.
While working with her clients she found a passion not for just treating their communication impairments but also in sharing their stories. She developed a website in efforts to educate parents and teachers about having more inclusive homes and classrooms as well as provide the parents of children with disabilities a welcoming community that is full of support and resources.
The story telling section of Macys blog is my absolute favorite. All of the stories are an incredible and inspiring read. Providing a space for these mothers to be heard and share their experiences brings those going through similar struggles together. Some of the stories are so relatable even if you don’t have a child at home with unique abilities. Of course you can find the link to Macy’s blog below if you’re interested in giving it a read.
Let’s Talk About It
As a society we are really uncomfortable talking about disabilities. But why is that? Macy brought up a really interesting explanation that we all are probably familiar with.
This is something that coaches, teachers, parents, or anyone with authority would say to us when we were kids. At the grocery store, at the mall, at school, at sports practice, we were always told not to stare. Even though this may come from the best of intentions, it really creates room for exclusivity and isolation as Macy points out.
Don’t stare becomes don’t acknowledge and this has become a huge problem. We say it in efforts to preserve ourselves. It’s a way for us to cope with how uncomfortable we feel. When it comes down to it, we can’t expect anything from our kids until we are comfortable with it ourselves. Which is why it’s so important to talk about it!
Raising Inclusive Kids
We all are here to do our best and raise kind and inclusive kids. I know we all want this but where do we start? What language is appropriate? How do we educate our kids? What resources are available? Luckily, Macy is the perfect person to answer all of these questions.
Starting with Language
I know we all have heard so many different terms, but which ones are the right terms? According to Macy, as long as you are trying your best to educate yourself, it’s really up to personal preference.
The only term that is NOT okay is the R word.
Macy suggests that if this term is being used in your home or at school it is SO important to educate your kids that this word is off limits.
Another really great thing Macy shared with me is the concept of people-first language. This is the idea that people are first recognized for their humanity and second for their disability. Macy shares that when she talks about a child with disabilities she don’t say “the autistic boy, instead she says “the boy with autism.” This language is so important to teach to your kids.
So how do we educate our kids?
One of the first things Macy ever talked about on her blog was the fact that kids ask questions. They ask questions in order to learn which as parents we are completely fine with. However that changes as soon as they ask a question about something we are uncomfortable talking about. This is why it’s so important to educate yourself first so you will be comfortable with answering their questions. As soon as we educate ourselves, we can then allow kids the freedom to ask as many questions as they would like to.
Macy provides a great example. Let’s say you are at the grocery and you pass a girl with hearing aids. Your kid might ask, “what’s wrong with her?” You first clarify that nothing is wrong with her. Then you explain that her ears just work differently than yours do and that difference is okay. It’s not scary, sad, or weird. I absolutely love this dialogue.
Where can you find resources?
Some easy first steps might be purchasing a book to read before bed, or watching a movie (apparently Pixar has some great ones that cover the topic). Macy also suggests that you can draw comparisons to people in your community in order to really connect the dots for your kids. When you use these resources in the privacy of your own home, it makes it easier to talk about it in public situations.
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More Than a Mom
Podcast favorite, Ashley Carbonatto, is BACK and this time…as a real life AUTHOR! Ashley’s first book, More Than a Mom, is officially available on Amazon for you to read right now! More Than a Mom is for all moms- the tired first time mom wondering why no one ever told her how hard this is, the veteran mom that has found herself more lost than ever, or the mom that needs a little reminding of who she really is underneath those yoga pants and 3 day old hair. You’ll laugh, cry, shake your head in intense agreement and immediately want to pass it along to your bestie! Grab your copy today and get reading!