So if you meet the parent of a child with special needs, here are some things to consider. They’re just based on experience and observation, but I’m guessing some parents out there will be able to relate.
1. My disabled child is still a child
Some people will look at a child and only see the disability (if they can recognise it). That’s a real shame, because what they’re not seeing is a beautiful child, one with the same sense of humour, mischief and fascination as any other child.
2. Nothing is “wrong with her”
Please don’t ask me that. Or what her diagnosis is. I appreciate your interest but, to be frank, it’s none of your business - I didn’t enquire about your medical issues.
Maybe just ask me her name. Better still, ask her.
3. I know you don’t know what to say, and that’s okay
It’s fine, I understand that you’re unsure. The best advice I can give is to imagine what you would normally say to a parent if you weren’t busy freaking out, then just say that.
4. I don’t wish she was different
I don’t spend my days wishing my child was different. If she was, she wouldn’t be my child. The one I know and adore, the one that makes me smile every day and makes me proud. Why would I wish for someone different?
Sure, I wish life was a little easier for both of us sometimes, just like everyone else, but I wouldn’t change my child.
5. I’m not brave, or stronger than anyone else
I get scared. I worry. I panic. I cry. Sometimes I feel like running away or that I can’t keep going.
On days like that I really need support or a kind ear. Don’t be afraid to offer help, it might just turn my day around.