Talking About Your Child’s Special Needs

Based on this post, many of you asked my thoughts on specific issues. Last week I began writing about the requested topics.

Talking to people about your child’s special needs can be difficult. You should always remember that who you talk to and what you say is always your choice. Also remember, talking about it can help.

A few reasons why it can be difficult to tell others about your child’s disability and challenges are:

    You are still coming to terms with the diagnosis and your feelings.

    You’re trying to better understand the diagnosis before you talk to anyone about it.

    You don’t want to talk about your child’s special needs with the person who asked.

    You are worried about how people will react to you and to your child.

    Your child is present and screaming unintelligible words (or worse, recognizable words) and ripping his clothes off while writhing in the floor…you’re just a little bit stressed.

Here is a list of basic tips for how to talk about your child’s special needs:

    Emphasize that your child’s disability is only one part of who he is. First and foremost, your child is a child.

    Consider the person’s relationship to you and your child when forming what you say and how to say it.

    Prepare. Have the basic information you need beforehand, including specific information about the diagnosis/special needs and how it affects your child. Being informed and prepared helps you answer questions should you choose to do so.

    Do not say more than you want or need to say.

    Have some rote responses prepared: ‘I prefer not to discuss it with strangers’…’You can find out more information about [the disability] online.

    If there are issues you are not comfortable talking about…don’t.

    Escape from the situation. Simply say, ‘I can’t talk about this now, can we talk another time’.

Some parents have small business cards printed with general information about their child’s diagnosis/special needs. If strangers stare or comment, the parent shares one of the cards and invites the person(s) to ask questions.

Every child is different, every parent is different, and every situation is different. There is no one-size fits all solution for discussing your child’s special needs with family, friends, professionals or strangers.

This is truly one of those issues which must be dealt with from your perspective. Eventually, you will be a good judge of who to talk to and what to say, and it will become a part of what you do (really).

Your thoughts? Suggestions?

Melody can be found writing here at 5MFSN every Tuesday in addition to hosting Special Exposure Wednesday. You will also find her at Slurping Life sharing photos and a few words from her special life.

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