• English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish
  • Swedish

Insurance Funding Request

Did you know Firefly products may be funded by your insurance?

Learn More
Back to Firefly Blog

5 Things to Say if You Want to Annoy a Special Needs Parent

5 Things to Say if You Want to Annoy a Special Needs Parent

During the past 12 years of parenting special needs children, I have heard a lot of comments from strangers, family, and even friends that want to help, but end up saying things that do the exact opposite.

I won’t go as far as to say that these phrases are offensive because most people really do mean well, but sometimes they way they express their thoughts comes off as judgemental, critical, or patronizing.

So, if you were ever wondering what to NOT to say to a parent of a child with special needs, I have narrowed it down to my five favorites.

  1. 1. "Can’t you just…”

Oh, if only I had a nickel for every time someone has said this to me!

Upon learning of my daughter’s feeding tube, I’ve had people ask, “Can’t you just make her eat?”

When I share how infrequently we are able to go on date nights, I inevitably hear, “Can’t you just get a babysitter?”

The list could go on and on, but the bottom line is, if I “could just,” I “would have” already.

Saying this to someone is presuming they have not already exhausted every avenue trying to solve the problem that you seem to have a “simple solution” for five minutes after meeting them; it’s really patronizing.

  1. 2. “I don’t know how you do it!”


It sounds innocent enough, and it’s the most oft-repeated phrase I’ve heard, and I don’t really know how to respond most times.

“I do it because I have to.” sounds like taking care of my kids is a detestable chore, which could not be farther from the truth.

And yet that is the truth; I do it because I don’t have a choice.

Because what is the alternative? Crawl under the covers and hide from the world?

Not an option here.

  1. 3. “You’re a Superwoman”

I know this one is meant to be a compliment, but I honestly think all parents are superheroes in their own ways.

We all struggle with different things; we all have challenges. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses.

When someone calls me a Supermom, I feel like I have to live up to an image I don’t deserve.

  1. 4. “What can they do?”

I get this one a lot when new-to-us people learn that my daughter has autism.

They automatically assume she is some sort of savant, and are disappointed when I tell them otherwise.

She’s a 12-year-old girl with autism and intellectual disabilities.

She has a silly sense of humor, loves the color pink, her trampoline, and music.

And she gives the best hugs, ever. That should be enough. She is enough, just the way she is.

  1.  5. “I’m sorry!”

I’ve heard this one a lot pertaining to my kids’ diagnosis, in particular with my daughter’s autism and intellectual disability.

It often comes with what I refer to as the “pity head tilt” if it’s done face to face.

Even though diagnosis does not define a person, it is part of who they are.

Imagine being the child and people apologizing to your parents for you being - you.

As I said, most people really do mean well when they say most of these things, but if you want to offer support, it’s probably best to steer away from assumptions or unsolicited advice, however well-intentioned it may be.

Most of the time, parents of special needs kids just need a little encouragement and someone to listen.

That, and a great deal of strong coffee!

Firefly Blog

Real life stories, issues and experiences of day to day life by special needs parents and
healthcare professionals.

Jennifer Arnold

Meet Our Blogger

I’m passionate about raising awareness about disability issues through education and outreach. When I’m not wearing my writer hat, I’m usually trying to control the beautiful chaos in my home.

View Jennifer’s Profile

Become a Firefly Blogger

Would you like to write for Firefly? Join our blogger network of parents, therapists and professionals.

Get In Touch

Become a subscriber today

Join over 40,000 subscribers to our weekly newsletter with insightful articles just when you need them.

Join Mailing List

By using our site you agree to our use of cookies. Click here for more info.

Accept & Close

No Interest if paid in full in 6 months on

Purchases on $99+

US Customers only. Subject to credit approval. See terms below

Paypal Credit

Pay now or pay over time with PayPal Credit. Just use PayPal Credit in PayPal checkout.

Subject to credit approval.

Purchases of $99+:

No Interest if paid in full in 6 months on purchases of $99 or more.

  • A minimum monthly payment is required and may or may not pay off the promotional purchase by the end of the 6 month period.
  • No interest will be charged on the purchase if you pay it off in full within 6 months. If you do not, interest will be charged on the purchase from the purchase date at the Purchase APR applicable to your account.
  • For New Accounts: Variable Purchase APR is 25.49%. The APR is accurate as of 6/1/2018 and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate (as defined in your credit card agreement). Minimum interest charge is $2.00.
  • Individual items that are less than $99 qualify for special financing when combined for a total of $99 or more in a single transaction.
  • Multiple separate transactions of less than $99 per transaction cannot be combined to meet the minimum purchase amount.

Purchases of $98.99 or less:

Buy now and pay over time with PayPal Credit when you spend $98.99 or less.

  • If you pay your balance in full each month by the payment due date that is on your statement, you can avoid paying interest.
  • Or, make minimum monthly payments, or any additional amount of your choosing, until you've paid off your balance according to your standard account terms. Please note, interest charges may apply.
  • We'll send you email reminders when your payments are due. You can also keep track of your account and view your statements online at any time.

About PayPal Credit

  • PayPal Credit is a reusable credit line available on purchases at thousands of stores that accept PayPal. It's also available for purchases on eBay and exclusively at thousands of other online stores. Plus, it comes with the same security and flexibility you trust from PayPal.
  • If approved, we start you off with a minimum credit line of at least $250. See FAQs for more info.
  • For New Accounts: Variable Purchase APR is 25.49%. The APR is accurate as of 6/1/2018 and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate (as defined in your credit card agreement). Minimum interest charge is $2.00. See Terms and Conditions tab for more info.
  • If you miss a payment your late fee could be up to $38, even less if it's your first time. See FAQs for more info.

Please wait...