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5 Things You Shouldn’t Say To A Parent With A Special Needs Child

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5 Things You Shouldn’t Say To A Parent With A Special Needs Child

We as parents of special needs children have a lot on our plates and the last thing we need is to worry about how YOU view our child, our parenting skills, our decisions, and our beliefs.

Our time and attention is not only on taking care of our family, jobs, other children, spouses, bills and any other day to day tasks but add to that worrying about, taking care of and making life-changing decisions for our children with special needs that not only will impact their lives but the family as a whole.

Why write 5 Things You Shouldn’t Say To A Parent With A Special Needs Child? So you can learn and be aware how hurtful your comments are.

The moment our child has a diagnosis, it is life-changing and we are no longer in the same world as parents with “normal” children.

We will now have to fit in our emotions over this news and how this will affect their future, specialist appointments, tests, blood work, research to learn all we can about their diagnosis, medical bills, therapy appointments, medications, IEP’s (Individualized Education Program), and making decisions all for their best interest.

We will have to learn new parenting skills specific to our special need child and their disorder. The way we grew up does not pertain to our child because it will be ineffective.

Our goal is to love our children and give them a happy and safe environment.

To teach them right from wrong and instill our values in them. To help them succeed in life to the best of their ability.

To be their voice even when we feel we are up against the world. Doesn’t sound like we want anymore or any less than most parents want for their children, right? The only difference is how we get there.

My point is you are not in a place to judge any aspect of our special need child or the decisions we make as parents.

So, next time you are thinking about giving advice or making a comment to a family member, friend or even a stranger think about this, unless you are offering your support, wanting to learn more or be educated about their child’s disorder, or wanting to help in any way then there is no need to say anything to us.

Your personal opinions, if not specifically asked by us on how you would do it differently or better is an insult.

Be a positive and supportive person and learn five things you shouldn't say to a parent with a special needs child. Education is key and support is needed.

5 THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T SAY TO A PARENT WITH A SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD

1. HE/SHE JUST NEEDS A SPANKING.

Not only has this been said to me, I have heard it said to complete strangers in public. When our children are having a meltdown this is not helpful! You are expressing your opinion on a situation you know nothing about.

If after you learned all the facts and you still feel we need to hit our children…then hopefully a child with special needs never has to rely on you to love, protect and fight for them.

It takes a lot of strength(both physically and mentally), patience and self-discipline to do what is best for your child instead of taking your anger out on your child.

Just one example would be if your child is not able to communicate their needs due to their disorder and it was coming out through their behavior because that is all they are capable of doing and the way you react is by physically hitting them, how is that teaching them?

How is that helping them?

It isn’t! So we do our best to help them learn how to communicate as best as they can in other positive ways.

2. IF HE/SHE WAS MY CHILD THEY WOULDN’T BE ACTING THAT WAY!

The key word here is IF. They are not your child so you have nothing to gain by continuing that sentence. When people make this comment it equals to you saying, we are doing a bad job parenting and your way is the only right way which is based on your own experience with children that don’t have any disorders.

Again, another insult. No parent is perfect, no matter what the circumstances are. No matter how much we want to always make the right choices. People jump to judge others when they don’t know what it is like walking in their shoes. If my child was YOUR child…they would be acting this way.

The difference would be how you would respond to your child with special needs vs. your child with no disability…that definitely would change because you then will be in my shoes.

3. IT’S YOUR FAULT!

This is a hurtful and damaging statement. No one can be more judging on us than ourselves. From the moment our children are diagnosed and even sometimes before the diagnosis comes when we start realizing there is a problem we are already going over our history.

Did I do something to cause this?! We question if it happened during pregnancy…something we did or didn’t do. Is it genetic…did we pass this on to our child? Did we not discipline them enough? Were we too strict on them?

The end result is the same…they do have special needs no matter what the reason is behind it. Maybe it was something we did unknowingly or maybe not but we cannot focus too long on that. We need to focus on making their life the best it can be.

So when you are passing judgment on us…what are you really hoping to get out of it?!

4. HE/SHE LOOKS NORMAL.

He/she looks normal so there is no reason he/she should be acting that way. This one is so frustrating! My child does not wear their disorder on their sleeve. They do not wear a shirt announcing…I am autistic so please excuse my behavior, nor should they have to in order to receive understanding or compassion from our fellow human beings.

There are many disorders that are not obvious to the eye but they are there. Again, you are assuming things based on your own personal experiences.

5. HE/SHE IS DISRUPTING AND NEED TO LEAVE.

When our special need child is having a meltdown, trust me when I say this…we know! No matter where we happen to be during this we are thinking and feeling many things. Trying to figure out what triggered it so we can take them away from it and into a comfortable frame of mind.

We are concerned for their safety depending on their outburst and where it is happening at. We are overwhelmed and sometimes embarrassed by the scene they are making.

Amongst all that going on in our heads…to have someone, whether it be a family member/friend asking you to leave their home or a manager at a store tell you your child is disrupting their customers and to take your child out of the store is mind-boggling. If you see someone in need…say, having a seizure.

Would you tell their loved one to take them because they are disrupting? No, I don’t think so. We as parents of children with special needs, whether autism, mental retardation, oppositional defiant disorder, ADD/ADHD deserve and would appreciate the same compassion.

CONCLUSION

There you have 5 Things You Shouldn’t Say To A Parent With A Special Needs Child. I hope you understand why this is so important to us parents with special need children. What other things shouldn’t be said to a parent with a special need child? Share it with us.


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28 Comments

  1. Hi CRay…thank you for taking the time to read it and for your comment. I have to disagree with you on this one. I am a mom of both a child with special needs and one without. This was written with my daughter who has multiple disabilities(not visible to the eye) in mind. I was never treated that way with my son who has no disabilities. It is a clear difference between the two. It is obvious it is done out of a lack of experience and knowledge. I do think that people in general tend to judge other people when it comes to their parenting, especially when a child is acting out but the difference here is children/people with special needs are not being “bad”. It is their disability/disorder that causes the behavior. My hope is to start discussions about these issues and to educate people so they can treat people dealing with this with support and compassion.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing. Some folks have no filter what’s so ever and just don’t care what they. But then there are some who mean no harm, and don’t realize what they say is offensive.

    1. I agree with you 100% this is why this post was written to raise awareness. Thank you for sharing and commenting Stacy.

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  5. Yes, to all of them! So true! It’s even hard to parents who don’t know what’s going on with their kids, like I was for a long time. We all need to be more aware and concerned for other people’s feelings.
    Sharing this post on my most recent post, since it ties in so well!
    God bless!

    1. Thank you Jenn! Thank you so much! You are so right it was hard for us to know what was going on with our little boy for a while. God bless you too!

  6. I couldn’t agree more with these. I have a post similar to this as a mom of two children with special needs. One of them has mild CP and is a sophomore in high school and the other has classic/severe autism. It’s rough but it’s rewarding most days.

  7. So true in so many ways. I can appreciate questions that educate but not opinions if you’ve not walked in the shoes of a mom or dad with special needs.

  8. People can be so rude and judgmental! Honestly, I don’t think people should say those things to any parent. A child can get upset for so many reasons… not enough sleep… sensory problems… autism… or sometimes, they just have a bad day like the rest of us, but they’re more expressive about it.

  9. There’s a lot of really great advice here! I really like #1 and 5. One of the most popular blogs on my website is “How to Help a Mom When Her Child is Raging in Public.” As a foster mom and a mom of special needs children, I’ve been out in public many times when my child goes into a rage. I think often people DO want to help me out, but they just don’t know what the heck to do. (Heck, often I don’t know what the heck to do, and I’ve been in that situation myself!) This is tough stuff so I think it’s great when we can all give each other some grace. Thanks for helping provide more understanding.

    1. Thank you Sara! Thank you for fostering. I hear you sometimes we just don’t know what so ourselves. Sometime any kind of support is welcome in those situations.

  10. Awesome Advice! People fear what they do not know anything of. I wish people would not judge until they know he whole story.

  11. As the mother of a son with autism, I agree with all 5 of these. But, to family and friends, I want to add: Don’t ignore that the child has special needs and, therefore, the parents have special challenges.
    My family would never acknowledge that my son had autism. If they did, they’d feel obligated to help and they didn’t want to do that. But what I needed more than anything was for them to listen and understand that my parenting situation was unique and difficult. That would have made a huge difference. A simple, “You’re doing a good job” would have meant the world to me.

    1. Reading this brings tears to my eyes Nancy. I am sending you a hug and completely understand where you are coming from. I sometime feel the same way, Nancy. Nancy, you are doing a good job! Sometimes we need to have a positive support system to simply listen to us. Thanks to my close friends I am so blessed but I would love to hear you are doing a good job from other members of my family and some friends. If you need to vent, talk, shoot me an email.

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  14. We adopted a little boy on the spectrum, he has brain damage from fasd. Yes, I agree on these five… but there is another one I hear a lot, “Maybe he will grow out of it.” like it’s an old out-of-style suit that we choose to keep but can cast off down the road. People can be very insensitive to a parent of a child with special needs.

    1. “ASD is so over diagnosed maybe they got it wrong” urrgghhhh i just want to have my own meltdown when i here that one. Overall I’ve accepted that people are scared of something that isn’t their norm. I’m cool with that but it is so hard when your lo is in complete turmoil because an announcement was made on a tannoy and some sweet old lady feels to teach you how to parent “properly” it takes all I’ve got to not turn into the hulk and teach her how hard it really is ?

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  21. It’s not just the parents. It’s the grandparents too. I’m learning everytime I’m with my grandkids. One is non communicative . As well as other things. The other is my little helper. Best big sister ever. And my opinion doesn’t matter. Cause I watch the parents trial and error too. As well as the school IPD.
    It’s a whole family and community commitment to help the child succeed. And also everyone needs to give that child an extra minute. They have something to tell you. It means the world to be understood.

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