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Fitting in Socially with Spina Bifida

When many people observe a child with spina bifida their first impulse is to express sorrow for their disability. While children may be protected from the unwarranted criticism of others when they are toddlers, as they grow up and enter the world being accepted socially is another challenge they will need to overcome. Being physically different is not the toughest obstacle for spina bifida patients as facing the outside world can be even more difficult.

When children are growing older they are taught to socialize with others as well as to accept responsibility for their individual actions. Learning to get along with others can be made more difficult by the few that often scorn or make fun of those that are different, such as a spina bifida patient in a wheelchair or who uses crutches or a brace.

Possibly some of the biggest obstacles that children with spina bifida face are overly protective parents or care givers and having their daily routines interspersed with trips to the doctor or hospital for treatment. Children without disabilities may treat them different and becoming part of a social group for which they are not up to the physical challenge, often leaves them feeling left out.

Their physical limitations may not affect their learning and while others are participating in physical activities they may be left with others in the background. They may be called nerds or other abusive terms simply because they are unable to compete in sports.

They may also limit their physical approach to others in order to avoid being close enough to hear the taunts of others. This may add to the problem as others may begin to ignore them completely. They may also not respond well to a person’s tone of voice and misinterpret the meaning behind what someone has said. They may not be able to hear sarcasm in a person’s invitation and show up at an event for which they are not welcome.

Growing up through adolescence can be difficult enough for those without physical or mental limitations but for those with spina bifida the challenge can be exponential. Care givers and others with whom the child counts on for guidance must help them with the development of social skills. Recognizing the signs of the child giving up on fitting in with any other group of their peers and helping them understand what needs to be done to change others’ perception of them, will enhance their potential of developing their social skills.

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