I’m taking a break, and Cheryl is filling in today. I asked her to write this post because during the course of the conversation we had one day, I realized that not only do I NOT know how to talk to your special needs child (yes, I am aware of the irony since I have two of my own), I just don’t know how to talk to any kids. I mean, I know how to talk to MY kids, but they’re mine, so if I screw them up, I’m footing the therapy bill. I am absolutely terrified of saying or doing the wrong thing with other people’s children. If during the course of this guest post you decide you also like Cheryl’s brand of crazy, don’t forget to let her know and visit her at Beautiful Side of Hectic (just beware of the cotton swabs*).
I suppose, I should introduce myself a little bit… My name is Cheryl and I have 2 girls, Lauren who is 4 (turning 14) and Jillian who is 2.5 (turning 30). Their attitudes have a lot to be desired sometimes. While they’re not driving me to the brink of alcoholism, I also have a husband who likes to hang around my house and play video games. Well, I guess he DOES bring in the bacon, so, I’ll give him props for that (props…)
Now, I’m not a military wife. I grew up in a military household though. Between 3 members of my family, we had the navy, army and air force covered. I’m not here to talk about THEM though, because obviously if you don’t know me from my blog, you’ll soon find out that everything is always about me.
The thing that brought Amanda and I closer together was the fact that we’re both bumbling our way through raising children with special needs. While Amanda’s children are on the autism spectrum, my daughter Jillian has Cerebral Palsy. And just like no 2 kids are the same, nor are 2 diagnosis’ (even within the same category) are the same. But that’s the thing about most special needs parents, regardless of what our children are affected with, we can relate, empathize and sometimes sympathize with each other.
Lately, Amanda and I talk throughout the day on messaging client or via texting. (Thankfully her cell phone company doesn’t charge her an arm, leg and kidney to text to Canada). I had mentioned a few days ago that a friend of mine remarked how she LOVED parents of special needs kids. WE are the people who know how to talk to her son, and we know how NOT to do it too. So, here’s my topic for today. How to talk to my child with special needs, class 101. (Ok, really, it’s not a class. I just liked how that sounded). (Also? Most of these techniques can be applied to “typically”- oh how I hate that word- developing children as well. Call it a two-for-one deal, if you will)
- Please don’t look at me and ask “What’s WRONG with your child” and ignoring my child like she’s not there.
- If a child is in a wheelchair, get down to their level and look into their eyes.
- If a child is non-verbal, they usually have another way of communicating, even if it’s just a smile.
- Please don’t ever say “Oh, I’m so sorry” because that makes me want to say “Oh, I’m so sorry your face is ugly”. Most special needs parents are NOT sorry their child is in their lives.
- Please don’t stare. I bet you wouldn’t like it if I started gawking at you with my mouth open.
- If you’re curious? Ask a question.
- On that note, we are also human, so, if we snap at you, it’s usually unintentional and we’ll feel guilty about it later.
- If your child points, stares or asks questions about my child, be open about it. If you don’t know, ask. Don’t shush them and then walk briskly away with pity in your eyes.
- (this goes for ALL HUMANS) if you see a child having a temper tantrum, you don’t know the whole story. Don’t judge and say “wow. She has NO control over her kids”.
So, there ya have it. My version of what is acceptable to do or say with special needs children. Often? A smile goes A LONG way. I know that if I’m having a challenging day, having another person just simply smile at me improves my mood tenfold. If you’re a special needs parent, do you have anything you’d like to add to the list?
*I’m not responsible for any peeing of the pants while reading Cheryl’s blog. Yes, I think it’s that funny sometimes.