How come the character with the disability never tells the story?

I escaped from the snow and ice of Chicago late last month to attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Seattle. AWP is a huge conference – over 700 exhibitors, and sessions covering everything from “Lives Not Our Own: The Ethics and Practice of Assuming the Voices of Others” to “Four Ways Blogging Benefits a Writer.” The thing that really caught my attention were the tons of sessions about diverse writers and characters, sessions on things like “Weaving Stories from Strands of Truth: Native Writers on Nonfiction” and “Literary Politics: White Guys and Everyone Else.” All those sessions about race, gender and sexual orientation, but not a single one about writers who have disabilities, or concerning books with characters who have disabilities. Hmm.

Not much time to ponder how I feel about all that, though. I had to get ready for my trip to Long Island. That’s where I am now, spending three days visiting elementary schools with my Seeing Eye dog.That's my Seeing Eye dog and me and first-graders during a previous visit to Daniel Street School on Long Island. That’s my Seeing Eye dog and me and first-graders on a previous visit to Long Island. My children’s book Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound is about life with a Seeing Eye dog, and it got some attention after winning a Henry Bergh children’s book award from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). I don’t think that’s the reason faraway teachers ask me to come visit their classrooms with my Seeing Eye dog, though.

The truth is, I don’t have much competition. There just aren’t a whole lot of children’s books focusing on characters who have disabilities. Educators from Brigham Young University (BYU) published a study in the journal Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities that found the representation of characters with disabilities is not proportionate to the current U.S. population of students with disabilities. From a BYU press release:

Along with an inaccurate representation of students with disabilities, the study also found a concerning theme of elimination of the characters with disabilities through death, being sent away or a discovery of a miraculous cure. In most cases, the character with the disability did not tell the story, and was often used in supporting roles that facilitated the emotional growth of other characters.

That last bit had me rethinking one of my favorite books reviewed here on the Easter Seals blog. Cynthia Lord’s “Rules” is an award-winning fictional children’s book that looks at autism, but sure enough, it’s written from the perspective of the older sister, not the boy with autism. The character with the disability is the supporting character, used to boost the emotional growth of his sister.

Let’s hope this study serves as a wake-up call to children’s book authors and publishers. I suppose I shouldn’t be asking for competition, but I look forward to more children’s books that focus on characters with disabilities. My visits to classrooms across the country show me that young readers love learning directly from people with disabilities about who we are and what we can do.


Comments may not reflect Easter Seals' policies or positions.

Please read our community guidelines when posting comments.

  1. Richard Sherman Green Jersey Says:

    thank you so much,i love this!|you know i love football,but i can not find good website,who know?|that is good news,i hope so!|because i alway find best jersey,and now i find it!|thanks for your posted!will use it again!The Indianapolis Colts signed managing back again Dan Herron and linebacker Andy Studebaker for their energetic roster Wednesday.Herron replaced Ahmad Bradshaw, who was placed on the season-ending injured reserve record Wednesday because of the neck injury.|The 5-foot-10, 212-pound Herron experienced been around the Bengals follow squad. Herron was Cincinnati’s sixth-round draft decide in 2012 draft. He experienced 5 carries for 5 yards and blocked a punt to be a rookie.|WASHINGTON (AP) Saints defensive conclusion Will Smith says he’s happy he obtained a chance to hear previous defensive coordinator Gregg Williams testify at an appeals hearing within the bounties situation.Smith and New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma attended Friday’s session, exactly where Williams was cross-examined with the players’ legal professionals for about four hours.Smith described the listening to as “peaceful” and “not awkward.”|Smith and Vilma – as well as two former Saints, free-agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove and Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita – ended up suspended with the NFL for that Saints’ cash-for-hits plan the league says Williams ran from 2009 to 2011.Smith|suspended 4 game titles, and Vilma, suspended with the entire latest season, have been taking part in while their appeals are pending. Fujita later experienced his suspension diminished to 1 activity. Hargrove hasn’t played while in the NFL this time, but faces a two-game suspension if he indications using a team.Smith and Vilma declined to debate any details of Friday’s listening to. Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has insisted on keeping the contents of the appeals approach personal. The hearings this 7 days have been driving shut doors.|“Paul wishes to help keep it beneath wraps, maintain every little thing low-key … so probably not substantially I am able to say correct now,” Vilma saidNeither participant was necessary to attend Friday, but as he still left, Vilma claimed: “Of system it felt excellent being able to go in there.”Vilma claimed it absolutely was the first time he had seen Williams due to the fact the end of last year in January.“We got to hear what Gregg experienced to state,” Smith stated.| “We desired to help make confident we were there just to listen to him out.”Right from your commence, the NFL said Williams was accountable for a pay-for-pain bounty system along with the New Orleans Saints.The former defensive coordinator – who advised the league about others’ involvement – was remaining cross-examined Friday by legal professionals for players pleasing their suspensions during the scenario.“We understand what we did and determine what we failed to do,” Smith reported.The listening to is a component in the latest spherical of player appeals overseen by Tagliabue. Former Saints assistant coach Mike Cerullo confronted issues Thursday, |when lawyers for your league and for gamers put in far more than 9 hrs within a Washington business constructing.Tagliabue and many attorneys declined to remark Thursday or Friday.Vilma and Smith traveled to Washington soon after playing in New Orleans’ 23-13 decline at Atlanta on Thursday night time.The NFL has described Vilma and Smith as ringleaders of a general performance pool designed to knock qualified opponents out of online games.| The league has sworn statements from Williams and Cerullo stating Vilma presented $10,000 to any person who knocked quarterback Brett Favre from the NFC championship video game for the end of the 2009 season.NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued the first suspensions, which also incorporated a full-season ban for Saints head mentor Sean Payton.|Lawsuits introduced by Vilma as well as NFL Players Association to obstacle Goodell’s managing with the case, including his selection in October to appoint Tagliabue given that the arbitrator with the appeals, are pending in federal court docket in New Orleans.On Thursday, U.S. District Decide Ginger Berrigan gave the parties right until Monday to reply questions on whether or not the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement prevents a commissioner from handing out discipline for lawful make contact with, and regardless of whether the CBA’s passages about harmful conduct are “ambiguous, consequently unenforceable.|”In March, the NFL declared that its investigation showed the Saints set together a bounty pool of approximately $50,000 to reward game-ending injuries inflicted on opponents. “Knockouts” were being truly worth $1,five hundred and “cart-offs” $1,000 – with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs, the league stated.According to the league, the pay-for-pain program was administered by Williams, with Payton’s expertise. Within the time, Williams apologized for his part, declaring: “It was a horrible oversight, and we knew it was wrong although we were being performing it.|Later that thirty day period, Payton grew to become the primary head coach suspended because of the league for just about any reason – banned for all this year with out pay – and Williams was suspended indefinitely.Williams was known for his intense, bodily defenses for a coordinator for Tennessee, Washington, |Jacksonville and New Orleans, and through his time as head coach of Buffalo. In January, he was hired by St. Louis to guide their defense.—Connect with Howard Fendrich on Twitter at—Online: and performed in 70 game titles, setting up eight with Kansas Metropolis, from 2008 to 2012. The 6-foot-3, 248-pound totally free agent had vocation totals of fifty one tackles, 2 1/2 sacks and two interceptions right before he was produced by the Chiefs in April.|

  2. gucci bags Says:

    Thanks for your write-up. My spouse and i have generally noticed that a lot of people are needing to lose weight as they wish to appear slim and attractive. Nevertheless, they do not often realize that there are additional benefits so that you can losing weight in addition. Doctors assert that obese people have problems with a variety of conditions that can be perfectely attributed to their excess weight. The great thing is that people who definitely are overweight as well as suffering from diverse diseases can reduce the severity of their illnesses by simply losing weight. You are able to see a continuous but marked improvement with health while even a slight amount of fat loss is attained.

  3. chanel bags australia Says:

    Thanks for making me to get new suggestions about pcs. I also hold the belief that certain of the best ways to maintain your mobile computer in best condition is with a hard plastic case, or perhaps shell, that suits over the top of one’s computer. These kinds of protective gear usually are model targeted since they are manufactured to fit perfectly across the natural casing. You can buy all of them directly from owner, or via third party places if they are for your laptop computer, however not all laptop may have a shell on the market. Again, thanks for your guidelines.

  4. chanel bags Says:

    I know of the fact that currently, more and more people are increasingly being attracted to cameras and the field of digital photography. However, to be a photographer, you have to first expend so much period deciding the exact model of dslr camera to buy and moving out of store to store just so you could possibly buy the most inexpensive camera of the trademark you have decided to select. But it isn’t going to end there. You also have to think about whether you should buy a digital photographic camera extended warranty. Many thanks for the good guidelines I accumulated from your weblog.

  5. google Says:

    Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just yojr articles?
    I mean, what yyou say is fundamental and everything.
    But imaggine if you added some great graphiccs or videos to
    give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and clips, this website
    could certainly be one of the most beneficial in its niche.
    Amazibg blog!

  6. ndmvjpdqe Says:

    Easter Seals Blog » Blog Archive » How come the character with the disability never tells the story?

  7. Mary Anne Adams Says:

    Good stuff

  8. Beth Finke Says:

    Oh, thank you so much for this comment — I’ve heard of the Joey Pigza series by Jack Gantos but hadn’t heard of the others, I will, excuse the library pun, “check them out.” Will also email you privately about that list of books — I have a list, too, but it is obviously outdated!

  9. Cynthia Fordham Says:

    While I agree that there are a limited number of books out there written from a disabled child’s point of view, there are more than you think. The Joey Pigza series by Jack Gantos and the Hank Zipzer series by Henry Winkler are first-person humorous stories about the main character’s ADHD. There are several about hearing impairment, including A Screaming Kind of Day by Rachna Gilmore. Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, is about, and told by, a child with a severe facial deformity. The Thing about Georgie, by Lisa Graff, is told by Georgie, who has dwarfism.

    Having grown up with a hearing impairment and later, having worked with disabled teens and adults as a rehabilitation counselor has made me very aware of resources for children with disabilities, now that I am a children’s librarian. I have a bibliography of books about disabilities, which I would be happy to share. It contains books we own at my library, is by no means exhaustive, and, yes, most are written from others’ point of view.

Leave a Reply