Before reading this article, The Child’s Eye: Memories of Growing Up with Cystic Fibrosis, I had never considered how it might feel to be labeled with a disability. I had never considered how being labeled could change others perceptions of you. By reading this article “The Child’s Eye: Memories of Growing Up with Cystic Fibrosis,” and considering life through the perspective of someone with this chronic illness, I have come to realize there are many things I can do as an educator to provide a supportive learning environment for the child.
I couldn’t imagine having to hide who you truly are because of others negative reactions. I have also realized how much unfair and unnecessary ridicule a child with a label can face at such a young age.
Throughout this article, I discovered children who are labeled with a disability face many different stressful interpersonal situations throughout their life. They have to deal with many difficult peer situations and negative reactions of others. They are faced with the challenge of how to tell others about their diagnosis and were confused by the meaning the label had to others. Amidst all these struggles, it is critical the child forms close friendships with peers. Teachers can have a direct influence in these phychosocial and educational needs.
In the future, I hope to create a classroom environment where children learn about individual differences in a positive way. I feel, if children learn about and celebrate things that make themselves and others around them different, they will be more accepting towards each other. I could also create opportunities for individuals in the class to share information about themselves with others and explore what they have in common. The adolescence interviewed in this article stated that meeting others with CF was extremely beneficial as it introduced them to “peers with similar characteristics who shared many of their same life experiences” (p. 9). Teachers could possibly locate other children with the same diagnosis within the community and provide opportunities for students to communicate with each other.
Considering life through the perspective of someone with CF has truly opened my eyes on what it means to be labeled with a disability. It is important as an educator to create a positive and supportive learning environment for every child. In this article, when the adolescence interviewed were asked what they would advise an 8 year old child with CF about growing up with a chronic illness, they responded: tell others what the diagnosis is, do not hide the diagnosis inside, do not let friends upset you, take your medications, and think of yourself as distinctive (p.11). Above all, I won’t let any misconceptions about a designation or label guide my teaching, I will get to know the student, their individual needs, their family, and let that guide my teaching.
Christian, B. & D’Auria, J. (1997). The Child’s Eye: Memories of Growing Up with Cystic Fibrosis. Chapel Hill, NC: W.B. Saunders Company.
Since 1955, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has been the driving force behind the pursuit of a cure. Thanks to the dedication and financial backing of our supporters–patients, families and friends, clinicians, researchers, volunteers, individual donors, corporations and staff, we are making a difference.