Things Not To Say To Parents Of Kids With Special Needs

Oh, I’m sorry.” Word: Our kids are not tragedies. They are our kids. There’s no need to feel sorry about them.

• “You must have it so hard.” Please don’t feel sorry for me, either. Sure, I’ve got a lot to juggle: Parenthood is a big job for any mom or dad (in case you didn’t get the memo). But I’d prefer if you didn’t make it seem as if I’m digging ditches for a living or something. I may have to do extra things for my child, but he is not a hardship.

• “Is he talking/walking/whatever-ing yet?” This is a tough question to hear, as often our kids are not yet doing whatever the asker is inquiring about. The “yet” is the part that makes me cringe, as if my child is on a timeline. There is no What To Expect: Kids With Special Needs edition for a reason. Our kids on their own timeline, and focusing on the finish line isn’t the point—it’s about the progress they make, every step of the way.

• “It’s so cute how he tries to talk/walk/jump/whatever.” Awesome effort, yes. Inspiring? Yes. Cute? No. There’s nothing cute about seeing a child struggle mightily to surpass his challenges.

• “He looks so normal!” You know why? It’s because my child with special needs IS normal. HIS normal. OUR normal. What exactly IS normal, anyway?

• “It’s great to see how much he enjoys ice-cream.” What does that mean? Is it implying that it’s a good thing my son is relishing the Stone Cold Creamery Chocolate because there’s little else in life he can enjoy? My child takes pleasure in the same stuff any kid does, from playing with trucks to laughing at Daddy’s obnoxiously loud burps.

• “You are a saint.” Hardly. I am just like any other parent, trying my best to help my child succeed in this world. For that, I do not deserve sainthood. But if you’d like to buy me a fruity cocktail, I’d be fine with that.

OK, people, what’s on your list?

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