Last Modified: September 13, 2022 | Published: August 10, 2022
Kids with disabilities navigate the world differently
Whether you are the parent, grandparent, or guardian of kids with disabilities, the journey can be rocky. The struggles faced by unique children can make even the simple-seeming tasks feel exhausting. Things like mealtimes, getting ready for bed, or even quick trips to the store can end in tearful tantrums that lead everybody involved to ask themselves, “But how did we get here!?”
Parenting unique children is often totally confounding.
And it can be discouraging to start each day with the mindset that you have to be ready to block and tackle at a moment’s notice. There’s no skirting the fact that kids with disabilities learn differently, process differently, and approach challenges differently than neurotypical kids. But even though these families face some pretty steep challenges, the rewards are amazing.
What Families of Kids with Disabilities Wish You Knew About Them
I know my child.
If a parent appears to shirk parenting ‘responsibilities’ during a grocery store tantrum, don’t jump to conclusions. The practice of ‘ignoring’ tantrum behavior may be part of their behavioral treatment program. Parents know their children better than anyone else.
I am trying.
Parenting is hard even with a neurotypical child. Parenting a child who is seemingly defiant about everything is particularly challenging. Every parent can use a little grace, especially those with extra challenges.
Snide remarks hurt.
De-escalating an outburst in public is already stressful and humiliating. When a parent hears a snide, under-the-breath remark, it’s belittling, shaming, and downright devastating at times. Let’s all try to judge less and give grace more!
Parenting isn’t linear.
When you have a unique child, there are steps forward, and there are steps backward … just like parenting a neurotypical child!
It’s hard going in public where we feel your stares and hear your judgmental comments.
If you only knew! You never know what sorts of struggles a family is facing. If you witness parent/child interactions that seem out-of-control, chances are, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
What These Families Wish You Knew About Their Kids
I want to help the world understand my child but never change them.
Helping my child is not to ‘fix’ them. These therapies we are engaged in are all to make my child’s life easier, not to change who they are. Parents just want their children to be seen as a unique part of an already unique community fabric.
My child is unique, wonderful, funny, and loving. I want people to see that.
Not every child can be unique in the ways that are traditionally seen as positive. We hear remarks like, “My child might not be the most personable or athletic or charming, but they are totally amazing in their own way.”
My child is my world.
Our relationship might look different, but at the end of the day, my child is my world and my reason for being. Just like yours.
I want my children to be happy.
Every parent wants the best for their child. The path to happiness just looks different to each of them.