What would it be like if you had trouble seeing, trouble hearing, or couldn’t use your hands?

Students at St. Mark’s Lutheran School, Eureka, discovered what it was like during a day dedicated to Ability Awareness when they learned that the biggest word in “disability” is “ability.” Lutheran Association for Special Education (LASE) Resource Teacher, Carlyn Reed, and School Counselor, Susan Howard, organized the March 2013 event to develop student sensitivity and compassion toward people with disabilities.

The activities were designed to heighten student awareness of different disabilities, convey to students how people with disabilities feel, and highlight the many accomplishments people with disabilities have made in the world.

Students learned first-hand from presenter, Aaron Likens, what it is like to be a person with Asperger’s. Likens told students how he did not know he had Asperger’s until he was out of high school, but knew that he approached life differently than most people. He has also written a book about his experiences.

Students also engaged in simulation activities that helped them experience what it might be like to be learning disabled, and physically, visually or hearing impaired. Fourth grade teacher, Linda Dehn , asked students to reflect on what they learned from the day.

Here are some ways in which they grew in their awareness:

  • I learned that it isn’t easy to do certain things if you have disabilities. I felt how it can feel with disabilities. It can be very hard.
  • Even if people are different you should still treat them the way you would want to be treated.
  • Just because you are different, you can still be smart.
  • People with disabilities want to be treated like a normal person.

LASE Resource Teacher, Carlyn Reed, believes that heightening students awareness of the different gifts in others helps everyone to love and accept others for who they are, which is exactly what our Christian faith calls us to do.