We humans come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are great runners, while others would be content drawing for hours at a time. Your brother or sister might love carrots, while you would scream and run in the other direction if asked to eat one. Just as we can’t control how tall we are or what comes naturally to us, we also can’t control whether we are born with mental or physical differences.
Some people are born without being able to see, hear, or walk. These are called physical differences, because something is affecting the way that their bodies work.
Some people are born with a brain that developed differently, which causes them to act differently. These are called mental differences, because something is affecting how their brain works.
• People with physical differences have the same brainpower as everyone else.
• People with mental and physical differences can usually participate in the same activities as everyone else.
• People with physical and mental differences need support and friendship like everyone else.
• People with mental difference sometimes have amazing talents, often in the areas of music or math.
• People with physical and mental differences have all of the same emotions as everyone else.
• It is cruel to make fun of anyone, but even worse to make fun of someone who has no control of their physical or mental difference.
Have you ever seen someone with a mental or physical difference and felt embarrassed or uncomfortable? This feeling comes from the fact that we are seeing someone act or look differently than what we are used to. It is our human nature to have a built-in fear of the unknown. (Back in the days of the cavemen, this fear protected us from things that might have caused us danger.) But our brains have grown much larger since then, and now the thing that makes us distinctly human is the compassion with which we handle our fears. You should encourage people with mental and physical differences to interact with you. You’ll be surprised how well it will probably go!