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It’s OK Not to Know What to Say to Parents Whose Kids have a Disability

Rebecca Toal by Rebecca Toal Additional Needs

Rebecca Toal

Rebecca Toal

Blessed, busy mum to four beautiful girls, the youngest with complex special needs due to extreme prematurity. We are always looking for ways to ma...

So how do you deal with it?

For me personally, I’ll be honest.

It depends on my mood, how I process those sort of comments or questions at any given time.

My response and feelings vary, which I think is only human. I like to think of myself as a positive person, a ‘glass half-full’ kind of gal.

However, at times, I’ve taken people’s words very personally and harshly.

I find myself feeling defensive and maddened at what they’ve said about my daughter.

Yes… she does have more than her fair share of disabilities, and it is sad that she can’t do many things, but you know what?

She is MY precious little girl. She is LOVED immeasurably.

And she is HAPPY!

Another approach I’ve taken is to tell myself that the person directing the comments means no harm and is merely ignorant when it comes to people with disabilities and special needs.

They simply do not know how to interact or what to say, so I should cut them some slack.

Maybe try to educate them a bit.

They’ve probably never known someone who is deaf with cochlear implants or seen a child getting a tube-feed.

So I take time to talk

That is, if they want to take the time to listen or if they really care to learn about our life.

I would say I’m pretty good by now at reading people’s non-verbal cues and interpreting tone.

I won’t waste my time offering information if the person seems bored or uncomfortable…

Being a mother of a child with multiple disabilities has made me more sensitive in how I interact with or start up conversation when I see another child with visible issues.

I don’t awkwardly and quickly avert my eyes or turn away when I see a kid who looks blind or is ambling in his walker.

I try to be friendly and offer a smile.

I may comment to his parent/ caregiver on how well the child is doing in his walker, or how cute her hairstyle is.

So I’ll try to say the right things.

Things that I would like to hear, as a special needs mama.

And I’ve learnt that sometimes, you just may not have the right words.

You might be stumped.

But that’s OK.


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