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Social Stories for Adults with Physical Disabilities

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

Students with social and cognitive disabilities may not know how to respond when they see an adult with a physical disability, especially if the adult is using adaptive equipment. In this lesson, you'll find social stories about interacting with adults with physical disabilities.

Normalizing Disability

We've all encountered situations where we don't understand what we see so we don't know how to respond. For young students or students with disabilities, these situations can be particularly confusing. Preparing students for encounters with people who use equipment such as wheelchairs and service animals can help them to feel more comfortable and to interact more appropriately.

Social stories are brief scenarios that give students an idea of what to expect and of what is expected of them in various social situations. Here are some social stories about interacting with adults with physical disabilities.

Social Stories for Adults with Physical Disabilities

My Granny Uses a Wheelchair

My Granny uses a wheelchair to get around. She used to walk like I do, but then she got a disease called multiple sclerosis. and her legs don't work very well anymore.

My Granny is the smartest, kindest, happiest person I know. We like to play games and watch movies and cook together. Cooking with Granny is fun. The counters and stove in her kitchen are low so she can reach them from her wheelchair. That means I can reach them, too, even though I'm just a kid.

When we go places with Granny, we look for ramps that go onto the sidewalk so that Granny doesn't have to go up and down the bumpy curb in her wheelchair. We also pick stores where the aisles are wide enough for Granny's chair, and we always use the elevator instead of the stairs. Sometimes I help Granny reach something that is on a high shelf.

I learned from my Granny that sometimes grown-ups can't use their legs anymore. This means they need to find creative ways to do things, but it doesn't mean they're bad or scary. It just makes them a little different. My Granny is a little different, and she is the best Granny ever.

Mrs. Scott Is Blind

When our new neighbors moved in last spring, I got excited when I saw their dog. I wanted to run over and pet the dog, but my mom stopped me.

''See that jacket the dog is wearing? That might mean it's a service dog,'' Mom said.

''What's a service dog?'' I asked.

''Service dogs are specially trained to help people. Let's go introduce ourselves and find out.''

Mom and I went over to the neighbors and introduced ourselves. It turned out she was right. Mrs. Scott is blind, and the dog is her service dog. Mrs. Scott said that when the dog is wearing the jacket, it means the dog is working and no one should talk to her except Mrs. Scott. That way, the dog can concentrate on helping Mrs. Scott to stay safe.

Mrs. Scott does some things differently than I do because she can't see. Sometimes she walks with her dog, and sometimes she uses a red and white cane. In her house, everything is in a very special place so that she knows where it is. I know never to move things in Mrs. Scott's house.

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