7 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?

UPDATE! Check out Part 2, What To Say To Parents Of Kids With Special Needs.

You might also want to see:

A Bill of Rights for Parents of Kids With Special Needs

iPad Giveaways for Kids With Special Needs


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  1. by Sunday

    On July 21, 2011 at 10:22 am

    “Do you have any other children?”

    Why?! Because having 2 boys with severe autism is so horrible that surely I have another child at home who is normal and I can experience real parenthood through?

    That question irks me every.damn.time.

  2. by Cassie McLelland

    On July 21, 2011 at 10:35 am

    “I don’t know how you do it, I could never do what you do.” “Ah, bless his heart.” “What’s wrong with him.” “Wow, you’ve got your hands full.” My favorite is when people tilt there head to the side with this sad look on their face and say “I’m so sorry.”

  3. by Lori H

    On July 21, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I HATE the “what’s wrong with him?”. What’s wrong with you to ask such a question? Lucien has a lot of dystonia. When he was about 3 years old, I actually had a waitress gesture toward him and ask “what’s this?”. To which I responded, “It’s a little boy” and left the restaurant. That said, I am typically happy to address intelligent questions. I also don’t love it when people ask questions or talk about him like he isn’t there or isn’t capable of understanding what they are saying.

  4. by Erica

    On July 21, 2011 at 11:29 am

    The one I hate the most is, “you look like you have your hands full” just because I appear to be several years younger with my 5 foot stature pushing a cart 3/4 my height with my 2 special needs kiddos inside, who appear “normal” and too big for the ride (one of which is knocking things off the shelves and taking swings at random people), and 1 “normal” child lagging behind doesn’t mean I have my hands full. It means I have a “normal” family who does “normal” things like grocery shopping, and nothing more. I think I’d be less offended if they’d just ask me my age.

  5. by Lori JM

    On July 21, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I LOVE the last one…fruity cocktails are always, welcome. Thanks for the smile!
    Yes, the “You look like your have your hands full” comment is annoying! What parent doesn’t have a minute/day/month/year that they have “full hands”?? I can usually–not always, but usually–change their focus when I respond, “Not as full as my heart”.

  6. by AutDad

    On July 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    I don’t understand why it’s bad for people to say things like are mentioned? AS a father of a low functioning Autistic daughter, I don’t care what others say. Perhaps if you stop concerning yourself over what others say and think “you wouldn’t have it so hard”.
    People ask questions or make statements because they are uninformed. I don’t ask strangers to be fluent or well versed in areas of interest of mine, there is no need to expect every person you come across to be caring to your needs and emotions. They have their own lives too.

  7. by Melissa

    On July 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I know you already used “he looks so normal” but I always get “but he looks FINE! He looks so HEALTHY!”. Well thanks, but what do you you want him to look like? Should he have a third eye or a tattoo across his forehead that says “I’m developmentally delayed”? Should I stop feeding him so he looks UNhealthy? It’s like people want him to look different on top of acting different. And even at that, they act like if they don’t notice his delays or special needs, they don’t exist or they aren’t still a struggle. I’d kind of like to put a tattoo across the forehead of these people that says “ignorant”.

  8. by Gina

    On July 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    My all time favorite….”I could never do what you do” REALLY?? so you think I raised my hand and stood in a special line for this or are they saying that if the circumstances happened to them, as a parent, that they could choose to not accept their child.

    On the otherside, let me be clear, I LOVE my child and every one of her challenges is just part of life. I am thankful to be so lucky. She has taught me more about myself, my faith and the world in general in her six years of life so I look forward to the future learnings. So when people say “they couldnt” I smile because “i do”

  9. by Ellen Seidman

    On July 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    AutDad: It’s good that you are not sensitive to comments like those. Some of us clearly are, and I don’t see any reason to condemn other parents for their feelings.

    Obviously, others have no ill intentions when they say things like the above. That doesn’t take away the sting.

    I hope to someday get past these feelings. Not yet. Right now, all I can do is say things like “He’s an amazing kid, please don’t feel sorry for him.”

  10. by Michelle

    On July 21, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I can certainly see your point with some of them (“What’s wrong with him/her?” and “She looks so healthy/good” being personal favourites of mine) but some really aren’t that bad. Maybe sometimes we carry just a bit of a chip on our shoulder and overreact when others (who, I agree, totally do not get our lives) just try to be nice.

    I mean “you look like you have your hands full” could totally be a comment I might make (or at least think) when looking at a Mom with a lot of little ones. Because, hey, she does!

  11. by Stephanie

    On July 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I’ve heard all of the above questions/comments before but my alltime favorite is: “Why would you have another child after having one like THAT” Like what?? Awesome, loving, funny, giving, strong, beautiful?? My daughter has mild cerebral palsy- I had someone ask is she contagious- give me a break.
    I mostly hate the “I’m sorry”, or the “well I’m sure she’ll be able to lead a normal life someday”. DON’T be sorry for me. My child is a gift and a miracle. And she does lead a normal life- more “normal” than a lot of kids these days!

  12. by Jen

    On July 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    My question is, what are some things that you have heard people say that encourages you with your children? Is there something that is positive and helpful you would like to hear/see more of?

  13. by Missy

    On July 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    We can’t forget the “Why did you keep having kids if you are going to have all special needs kids?” Yea, I hear that over and over. I had a 5 year old on the spectrum, his twin has language and motor delays, and a 3 year old with a 16p11.2 duplication and severe expressive language delays.

    There’s the ever so popular “What did YOU do to cause them all to have special needs?” or the “He just needs a good spanking”. I’m sure the spank technique will stop my child from having poop accidents. I’m sure that spank will stop him from the meltdown that he’s about to do.

    I have also heard “You have your hands full” and the “Better you than me.” I usually respond “I agree to the better you than me and “My heart is full as well.”

  14. by Leslie

    On July 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Recently, I have not been around children with special needs or their parents. before reading this article I didn’t know parents with children that have special needs were offended or annoyed about what others say. I am glad that I am now informed of this so I can avoid those comments.
    That being said, from situations I heard or read about, many parents with special-needs-children are often very open about how hard it is. Example, that extreme home makeover show. There are several cases where they show the audience how much more difficult these families lives are with special-need-children. How much more expensive it is, and how time consuming it is because of extra things they need to do. The list goes on! So from everything they say, they make it seem like it is a different experience to parent children with special needs.
    Maybe the parents who are asking you these annoying questions are only trying to give you credit for what they THINK is a different experience.

  15. by Jared Freeman

    On July 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Having mild Cerebral Palsy myself, this was a nice article to read, and it is so true! When I was younger (perhaps about 11 years old) people would ask my Mum things like “What is his name?” like I couldn’t answer it myself. When people as in a nice manner what disability I have I will happily answer them, as it is human interest. But when people begin to presume I can’t do things (e.g. “It’s a real shame you can’t be like the other children”) when in fact I can.

    My favorite comment of all time is going to have to be when a lady came across me in the street as I was just shopping, gave me a £1 coin and said ‘Sorry’. Jeeze.

    I appreciate that some comments and questions are made in good faith, but people really should think before speaking when it comes to disabilities.

    Also a note to Stepahnie – Really? Somebody asked if Cerebral Palsy was contagious? Wow, silly people they are. Speaking of which, someone came to me just as my first child was ‘in the womb’ and said “Will the child be born with what you have? Because if so, I think that’s unfair” and my response was merely a look of disgust.

  16. by Heather

    On July 21, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I completely agree with the ‘yet?’ question. My son is 1 and he is not crawling or walking because an inutero stroke caused left side weakness that makes these motor skills a challenge. We are doing physical & occupational therapy to strengthen & train his brain to use both sides. It has already worked wonders but hurts when people ask or say & ‘oh’. He is a miracle that we wouldn’t change for the world.

  17. by Jodie

    On July 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Firstly, Jared it just blows me away how uneducated some people are regarding special needs and I can’t believe someone said that to you!
    I have two comments that make me grit my teeth when said to me:
    1. He is such a happy boy!
    Of course he’s happy, but you should see him when he’s grumpy!
    2. You are an awesome mother…I could never do what you have to do!
    I am not a saint and I often feel over whelmed like any mother out there. To me there is not a lot of difference when it comes to parenting a child with special needs except you may need just a little more patience, more time listening and more time reading body language.

  18. by Heidiho

    On July 21, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    I agree that people can say mean and thoughtless things, in most any situation and as is well documented above. However, most of the comments come from a good place. All of u’s have found ourselves in a position where the right thing to say didn’t come out of our mouths. Be as understanding and compassionate as you want strangers to be with you about their ignorance (for lack of a better word). I think many of the things people say on the list above are a verbal pat on the back. Convert what you hear into, “you’re doing a great job.” Because although the words can be taken the wrong way, it is compassion they are expressing. And if the role was reversed, before you had a special needs child, wouldn’t you have felt compassion for the parent in your shoes?
    Of course, all this peace and love stuff does not apply to the meanies! But since we can’t fix them, i recommend accidentally hitting their ankles with your shopping cart. Apologize and say, “sorry, I’ve really got my hands full!”

  19. by Dee

    On July 21, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Interesting discussion. It may be hard to find the right words, sometimes nothing needs to be said at all, just a smile. Or “congratulations” when a child (with or without disabilities) is born. When my daughter was born 15 years ago only one person actually said “congratulations”. It was shocking when he did say this to me. What about the comment “you’ve done such a good job with her” like she is a window dressing and I chose the curtains, etc. NO she is an individual with her own personality and experiences. Or the classic……”did you know when you were pregnant you were carrying a child with Down syndrome”.

  20. by Erica @ ChildOrganics

    On July 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    When I had my daughter with me I was always very mindful not to make people feel uncomfortable about what they said to me. It’s a fact our special needs children are different and I wanted people to feel they could approach us. Even if what they said was on the “not to say” list, I always was happy that they took the time to approach us and not just stare or whisper about us behind our backs. I always looked at the comments as baby steps leading towards being more aware of special needs children.

  21. by Les

    On July 21, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I brought up this discussion with my husband and he mentioned that a friend he works with always talks about her hardships with her teenage autistic daughter. This includes various things, and she always stressed because of the extra time she puts into parenting. Can someone tell me how it would be offensive to to tell her that she “must have her hands full and is a saint” ??? I don’t have children w special so I honestly dont know.
    Also, i have heard many letters of people vounteering family and friends for “secret Santa” or home makeover shows, always saying that the family has it more rough because of their children with special needs. Many accommodations are made for them as well.
    One more thing, I am not well informed on all special needs, disorders, diseases, and illnesses. While trying to understand a new friend with special needs, what CAN i say that wouldn’t be offensive? Are there any “correct” questions i could ask that would enable me to learn more about a
    specific special-need? Many of you mention ignorant people, but how is everyone else supposed to know about the specific special-need your child has???????
    Just trying to find some answers on the other side! :) I usually avoid asking any questions or making comments to parents/children with special needs, but I would not say those who do are intentionally being rude

  22. by Ellen Seidman

    On July 21, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    This is such a helpful discussion. Heidiho, yes, these comments typically do come from a point of compassion. Some also come from a point of stereotypes about kids with disabilities, which is partly why they can be so maddening. It’s not always the comments themselves we grapple with, it’s the baggage that comes with them, both societal baggage as well as our own.

    As Erica wisely said, in the case of strangers, conversing with you is better than staring. And when I’m in the mood, I do try to use comments to steer people toward some higher awareness about our kids.

    Les, good questions. As a parent of a kid with special needs, my greatest wish is for other parents and kids to approach him like any other kid—and to treat me like any other parent. Ask him about his favorite kind of ice-cream. Ask me how he gets along with his sister. Once I’m on a conversation with someone, I honestly don’t mind being asked what kind of special needs he has. I’m lucky that, unlike some Facebook commenters, nobody has ever said to me “What’s wrong with him?” !!!

  23. by Samantha

    On July 21, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    I never felt like any of these comments were “rude”. I always felt that people were just curious and trying to be nice or compassionate, especially because most people have no experience with special needs kids. With that being said, there are some comments that are hurtful and mean. My daughter has Alagille Syndrome that causes chronic liver disease, heart problems, and developmental delays. She has been extremely jaundiced since birth. The worst comment I have received is “Do both of your kids have the same father”? WHAT?!?!?! I was shocked that someone would have the audacity to ask. It is no ones business, but I did answer the question. I simply told them that yes both of my children were to the same man, and I was actually married to him.

  24. by Corey

    On July 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    I watched a comedy tv show on comedy central. There was a man who had Cerebral Palsy, he seemed to enjoy his life just as much as a normal person.
    He is one of my favorite comedians. I just wish I could remember his name. Pregnancy memory sucks.

  25. by Laurie

    On July 21, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    The one question I was asked that I will never forget was asked by a resident at a hospital and it was ‘Did you marry your cousin?’. My son has down syndrome. I was too shocked at the time to say anything other than ‘no’. This man was a doctor for pete’s sake!!
    I know most people don’t mean any harm but to those who aren’t a parent of a child w/special needs and wonder why we take offence, it is because we have to constantly fight to have our kids seen as ‘kids’ first, plain and simple. If these types of comments/questions happened only occasionally we probably wouldn’t take such offence but they happen so often it really starts to get under your skin! Perhaps they could be taken as a pat on the back sometimes but most of the time they seem just plain patronizing.

  26. by Christy

    On July 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    um actually, my child IS a hardship. care for my child is thousands of dollars a month. care for my child takes away from my other children, it ended my marriage and it has taken a toll on my health (mental and physical).

    and if they say something nice, like my child likes ice cream, thats not an issue. having someine like YOU speak for ME, when you shouldn’t be; THAT’S AN ISSUE.

  27. by Ellen Seidman

    On July 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Corey—that’s Josh Blue! Have you ever seen Zach Anner, the guy with CP who won his own show in that Oprah competition? Here’s his site, he is a riot: http://therealzachanner.com/. He likes to say he has “the sexiest of the palsies.”

    Laurie: Wow. That’s mind-boggling awful. Once, when my son was a baby, I took him to a doctor who told me the only other babies he knew who’d had bilateral strokes had crackhead moms. !

    Christy: I am sorry to hear of the extreme hardships you’ve been through. I think we do have it tougher than other parents at times, but I personally do not like to think of my child as a hardship—”personally” being the operative word here. These are my thoughts and feelings. I don’t claim to speak for all of us, not by any means. Again, I apologize that you felt my words underplayed all that you have been through. I did not mean it that way.

  28. by Margaret Lukens

    On July 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Erica@ChildOrganics , what a wonderful, generous response! I hope I can adopt your attitude, recognizing that people are doing the best they can and helping them to do better. I believe that generally, people do mean to be kind (despite the horrible experience of Laurie). They want to be more connected to us and to our kids. They just don’t know how.

  29. by marcy

    On July 21, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Wow, what a hot button issue. I always thought it was just me who was annoyed by these questions. Yes, people are curious because it’s natural. However, curious and rude are different. If you wouldn’t want to be asked these questions, don’t ask them of someone else. Don’t use the word normal since normal is relative. The word average can better be defined and is, therefore, not offensive. If you have a legitimate reason for asking your questions because the answers can benefit you or someone you know, then explain that before asking personal questions. If you just want to make my situation your dinner conversation don’t bother me because you’re being rude. Think before you speak. No two people, or situations, are alike. Don’t compare me to someone you saw on tv and I won’t do that to you. Don’t assume I can’t speak for myself. Speak directly to me, and I’ll do the same for you. Don’t assume there’s something wrong with my brain, and I won’t assume there’s something with yours until you prove otherwise.

  30. by Susan

    On July 22, 2011 at 4:30 am

    I have twins with “special” needs,someone always says”God bless you!”, I always respond with “He already has!”

  31. by Stephanie

    On July 22, 2011 at 6:55 am

    @Corey: I think the comedian u were speaking of was Josh Blue and he is HYSTERICAL. This was an awesome article that was very thought provoking. Thanks.

  32. by Renee

    On July 22, 2011 at 8:06 am

    “all they have to do is practice” some have said about both of my Dyslexic children and husband. Really? Now why didn’t I think of that? Oh I know why… because the issue has never been lack of practice. After explaining Dyslexia to my husband’s boss at least 12 times, I would respond as calmly as I could “Maybe that would work with the blind as well. How about anyone on this earth who has a disability. They should just practice. That guy in the wheelchair should just get up and walk already! I think you’re onto something…”. You can try to explain things to people who don’t know any better but some people just don’t accept things they can’t (or won’t) understand.

  33. by elazwemataxrefund

    On July 22, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I think people need to be a bit more considerate when it comes to such issues. First put yourself in the shoes of that person before rushing to make such insensitive comments. No one chose to have a child like that and this could easily happen to anyone.

  34. by Allison

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:17 am

    I have two – i was walking through a hospital and my son had a feeding tube. someone stopped me and asked what was wrong with him. It is bad enough on its own, but IN THE HOSPITAL?

    second, my son began wearing glasses at 6 months. I was at a costco (even though this happened all the time) and some man came up to us and asked me if the glasses were real? Seriously? No, sir, he is just wearing them because they are in fashion!!

  35. by JENN

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:17 am

    “It’s not like he’s going to die or anything from it.” (This coming from my son’s aunt). My son is 3 & has Angelman Syndrome. True he most likely will not die from having AS however……he will have to live with the seizures, complications, lack of speect as a result of his syndrome for the rest of his life, require life long care & face many challenges .

  36. by Amy

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I completely understand everybody’s frustration over the 7 things NOT to say, but I’m just wondering – what are a few things we CAN say that wouldn’t make parents so upset? Most of the time I’m just in awe of the courage and strength it takes to raise a special needs child. I don’t want to offend, I just want to be able to say SOMETHING – positive, encouraging, anything… what helps?

  37. by Clementine Kruczynski

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I get a lot of ‘but he’s so smart!’ from people that have no concept of what Autism is. Yes my child is smart, in fact his testing into savant levels for some things. Just because my child has Autism that tells you nothing about his intelligence level.

  38. by Kendra

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Wow, people are way too damn sensitive these days. Does everyone sentence now have to be dissected to find a deeper meaning? People say those things because it’s hard to know what to say and they’re just trying to show compassion. People should focus more on that fact that people are trying to show they CARE instead of taking it personally and getting offended.

  39. by Nadine Kirby

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:26 am

    One comment I can live without:My son is wheelchair bound he was 7 yrs old when some lunatic leans down in his face and says : “its nice to see you out amongst the people” ??? Really ?? it rendered me speechless which is an extreme rarity , my son looked up at me like please get me out of here and my husband said ” I have never seen you at a loss for words ?? trust me if I had said to her what I was thinking it would not have been good !!

  40. by Aleta

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:28 am

    While, I do not have a child with special needs. I have worked with individuals who have developmental disabilities for quite a few years….I have always been the type of person who gets easily offended, so the stares and the acting scared of my clients, as if it may rub off on them. Or shooing there children from getting to close…err people truly make me sick!!

    I started to ask the “starers” is there something you would like to ask or say? We would be happy to answer any questions you may have!!

    It is not an affliction, or a contagious disease, it is the way God made us, DIFFERENT not better or worse Just DIFFERENT!!! In some cultures individuals with disabilities are held in the highest regard believe to be touched by God!! Well in my own little world we are all touched by God and we are all the same!!

    All right I will get off my soapbox now!!!

  41. by wow

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I agree with Amy. And I think this article puts people in the position of just not wanting to say anything because they are worried they might offend. :(

  42. by Lynn Brady

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:29 am

    There are a lot of unthinking and rude people in this world, including my oldest daughter who, by the way, has raised a boy whose AADHD never responded to treatment and had to be sent to special residential treatment. He is doiong well, but has progressed to a diagnosis of Sociopath! She seems to have no governor on her tongue – if she thinks it, it falls out of her mouth! On the other side, a lot of parents (and professional caretakers, as well) are TOO sensitive to how a person expresses themselves. I also believe that the person who nurtures, rqaises, gives total care to a special needs individual (child or adult) does work harder and endure more than the average person and they deserve special credit and encouragement. I am a caregiver for a paraplegic adult in a chair and on oxygen, so I know whereof I speak.

  43. by Clementine Kruczynski

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:29 am

    @Amy…when you see a child that looks older, but is still acting like a younger child, or not walking, or any of the other loads of symptoms that these things cause offer a helping hand. If the child is bolting, try blocking them to at least slow them down for the parent trying to catch them. With things like that you can simply say looks like you have a bolter on your hands. That could open the door for a conversation about the child’s behavior. When someone is having a mega melt down, offer to give a hand. Sometimes that will be enough of a distraction to stop the melt down.

  44. by Kimberly Todd

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:30 am

    It sounds to me like the mom’s of special needs children are being a little too sensitive. A lot of the things listed above are things I say to any parent. Try not to take everything personally. No one is trying to belittle you or your child. If they are then, shame on them. But it really sounds like you are all being a bit nitpicky. Lighten up and stop letting your resentment or whatever get in the way of connecting with other moms. Sheesh.

    Emotionally Disturbed
    that’s right i was special

  45. by Tara

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Well it seems to me that nothing is ok to say to a parent with special needs kids then. If you want to be treated like every other parent then why is a comment like “is he walking/talking/whatevering” such a bad question? That is something someone would ask to any parent. I can see how some things are inappropriate but try not to get so offended especially when someone means well. Just because they are not in your position doesn’t give you the right to be so catty about it.

  46. by Marissa

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Thanks for this article although a lot of those things and what’s written in the comments aren’t blatantly awful like “Oh your life must suck balls.” So what may be more helpful than this is a list of the things that are okay to say. Otherwise the next time someone tells me they have a special needs child I’m going to turn around and walk away out of fear that I’ll offend them by saying their kid is cute or that I want good things for them (which I think is the place a lot of those God bless you type comments come from).

  47. by amanda

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:38 am

    While I think there are some really rude and offensive statements out there. Some of the statements are made by people who care about the child, but don’t know what to say. Also, some of those comments are made towards all parents everyday, such as glad to see he is enjoying his ice cream.:..usually said when my son has it all over his face,;looks like you have your hands full, I hear this all the time at the grocery store…. The person isn’t going to stop what they are doing, go research the correct thing to say and come back, they are going to do their best with the knowledge they have.

  48. by poop on you

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:39 am

    You people need to get over yourselves. Get a life and a job and quit complaining you utterly incoherent dopes!

  49. by Tracy

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:41 am

    So, I’m two others who have asked, Amy, and I’m not remember which other. But this focuses so much on the negative that it leaves other parents that do NOT know what it’s like to have a special needs child at a loss for words. Any ideas on what encouraging, caring, and kind things we could say that would not be interpreted as rude?

  50. by mama

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:42 am

    I have 3 kids, none of which has special needs, and I get the “you sure have your hands full” comment frequently. I even got that one when my oldest was the only child. I don’t think that’s a commentary on any child’s appearance, abilities or behavior. I think it’s just a simple understanding that having a young child (or especially several children) is a lot of work.

  51. by Ahoy matey

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:42 am

    “Your kid is retarded. Not in an offensive way. He just is mentally different than the other kids.” I don’t mind that one. But you people here are so shallow you’d be offended by it.

  52. by nymom

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Great debate! I’m curious…Do you think parents of special needs kids are more sensitive to the remarks of strangers, or are all parents sensitive to comments about their own kids?

  53. by Melinda

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:46 am

    My brother has arthritis, circulatory problems and a lower immune system due to all of it. I’ve seen him a normal child my whole life. He was never “disabled” in my eyes. He has achieved more than “normal” people. He is now 30 and has seen more of his dreams that anyone else. Even with arthritis, he is a ASE certified mechanic and has even raced for 5 seasons! My mom always heard these statements…Or one of the best “Why are you making your baby walk and you’re carrying your 4 year old?” or “Why is he so skinny? Don’t you feed him?” Grrrrr Oh and my brother now has a very healthy boy of his own…without his “disability”

  54. by Clementine Kruczynski

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Wow…I’m sorry but some of the comments here are extremely rude.

    How about just saying Hi. If the child doesn’t reply, don’t worry about it. Say hi to the parent. Simple hellos go a long way. Most of us will just give you an explanation as to why our child didn’t say hi back or whatever.

    When you want to tell us that our child is cute, do just that. A nice your little one is adorable is always fantastic to hear, no matter if your child is special needs or not. When you want to tell a parent you hope the best for their child do! Tell us you hope that all of the hard work we’ve been putting in, and all the trying and struggling that our child is putting in will work. Tell them that you want our child to have the best in life. The parent does to.

    It’s a lot of stress raising a child with special needs. My son has 5 doctors alone. He goes to a special school for more therapy. I work with him at home. When he does something new he gets lots of congrats from everyone. If the parent tells you they just started talking/walking/crawling/rolling whatever celebrate with them. It may have taken a lot of hard work and therapy to get them there.

    I see a lot of parents when I’m out with my son. I can tell when there is something going on. I ran into a father, mother, and their 10 year old son in line waiting to see a dino exhibit. He was acting a lot like children with Autism act. I simply asked him, does he have Autism? He didn’t, he has Fragile X Syndrome. Which is genetic, but similar to Autism. I found out a lot more about something I had recently had my child tested for, and was waiting for results on.

    Just try to be nice, and honestly care about what your asking about, or don’t ask at all please.

  55. by Tina

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:49 am

    A lot of times, people simply don’t know what to say in certain situations. Should people simply ignore that a child has special needs? Can they acknowledge it at all? Instead of focusing so much on how people annoy you with their care and concern, could you offer some solutions?

  56. by Mommy of 2

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:49 am

    I cannot stand the, “She looks normal” comment. I am glad my child meets your approval of what is normal or not. What would you say to me if she looked different?
    Another comment that always crossed my path with my first daughter who does not have any special needs is the, “is she doing … yet?” But don’t forget to add on, “My son/daughter was doing that when he/she was …” UGH! She will do things at her own pace, so get off my and her back!

  57. by Kerri Cooper

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:52 am

    My son is autistic and brilliant. He has Aspergers, OCD and Impulse Control Disorder. I have other kids too. What REALLY upsets me is when he gets agitated and someone tells me I need to whip him. THERE IS NO WAY. What a horrible thing to say. Most people do either try to understand, or look away and say nothing. I prefer that. And so does he.

  58. by Chris

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I have 4 kids and one has special needs. He is also adopted. A planned adoption where the birthmother chose us to be parents when she was four months along. He started having problems at seven days old and it was only downhill after that with being diagnosed with a terminal illness at age 5. I have had the question “would you have adopted him if you knew?” Seriously. I know in my heart he was meant to be ours. What happened to him was a fluke of nature. It could have happened if he were born to us. The fact is, he is here and he has accomplished more in his short life (now 8) than many can say they have in a long lifetime.

  59. by Melissa

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I feel like some people are just wanting to be offended. Especially if something is diagnosed at birth, certainly there is some sadness/disappointment/fear. Saying “I’m so sorry” to someone is a way to comfort them or to express you’re there for support. I’ve got a normal kid and have been called a “saint” and been told “I couldn’t do what you do” and I take pride in that! Yup! My kid is cutting four teeth at once and is a constant mood swing that just discovered how loud her voice can go. And yet I manage her in such a way you’d never know unless you followed me around. Saint indeed! I have thrown myself full force into mommyhood–other teacher mommies shipped their babies off to daycare this summer, but I kept mine at home and we go all sorts of places. I remain as graceful, polite, and attentive to her as possible. Darn right you couldn’t do this! Some days I want to rip my hair out and hide from my responsibility–it feels GREAT to have someone acknowledge how hard it is to be a parent in general. If she was special needs, I seriously doubt that pride in my selfless love, devotion, and parenting would change or acknowledging it would become offensive!

  60. by karen

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:54 am

    “He doesn’t look like he has anything wrong with him.” LOVE that one!

  61. by Melanie N

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:54 am

    My two are not special needs, and I get the “You got your hands full” all the time. I love the response, “My heart is full, too.”

  62. by DeborahL

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:55 am

    After reading about half of these comments I’m irritated. I understand this is a safe place to vent about the annoying ignorance of people who ‘don’t get it’, but what would you rather they say? I have to perfectly healthy children (well, one is VERY ADHD) and I get alot of the same comments. “Boy, she loves her ice cream”, “Geez, can’t you control your child’s behavior”, or “He looks so happy”. I don’t think they are belittling my children or my parenting. I think people like small talk. Small talk is meaningless dribble to fill a void. They are not taking acception to you, your child, or the situation – they are treying to be polite. Rather than take offence at them, use forumns like this to educate. What should I say that would not offend?

    Before you tell me that I cannot possibly understand, let me flip this a little. I’m a 30 year old cancer survivor. I worked a professional job through my entire treatment from bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, through to radiation. I cannot tell you how often I hear “I’m sorry for you”, “You are so strong”, “I couldn’t do what you are doing” etc. I understand that seeing someone dealing with cancer makes people uncomfortable and they don’t know what to say. They want to help but don’t know how. So they babble meaningless comments at me. Don’t feel sorry for me, I don’t. Yes I’m strong, what’s your point. Yes if you had cancer you would also do what I’m doing because you would have to. They don’t mean anything by these comments – they are trying to make you and themselves feel better in an ackward situation. Society does not teach us what to say in these situations and so we babble meaningless polite comments.

    Grow a thicker skin and stop being annoyed by 95% of their comments and feel pity for THEM for not knowing what to say. Teach them what to say. Help them understand that your life situation is beatiful and fills you and your child with happiness. Find opportunities to point out the blessings in your life so that they will understand. Spread joy and they will learn. I’ll get off my soapbox now… :)

  63. by Andrea

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:56 am

    “Wow! I would never have guessed she had a disability, she doesn’t look like she has one.” Just because someone doesn’t use a wheelchair or have telltale signs of a disability doesn’t mean they don’t have the same struggles or feelings of being “different”. If anything it can sometimes be even more difficult for families of children with hidden disabilities to get the necessary extra helps that would help make their lives a little easier. They are often turned down for assistance because most states do not recognize hidden disabilities as an actual disability. This can frustrating not only for the child, but also for their parents.

  64. by Sherri

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:56 am

    This is very enlightening. I had no idea some of the things I say could appear offensive. However, “you look like you’ve got your hands full” is a common statement to anyone with children. I get it all the time and do not have children with special needs. Also, I say “bless his heart” all the time to any child because I love Jesus and want every child to be blessed with all spiritual blessings. I guess it’s all in what we are going through that decides how we take what someone says. My advise, always think the best of people.

  65. by Adalia

    On July 22, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I both agree and disagree with this. I personally don’t have any children with special needs, and the biggest problem either of my sons has had was when my oldest was something like 97% deaf at 8 months because of fluid build-up and he had to have ear tubes in twice.

    I can understand how some of this would be offensive, but other things, no. I think some parents of children with special needs are arrogant and ignorant. The bottom line is, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. Perhaps “what’s wrong with him/her?” is a bad way to phrase it, but it’s the same question as “what does he/she have?”. And somebody mentioned someone asking the parents what a child’s name was as if the child couldn’t answer, but what if they HAD asked the child and the child COULDN’T answer? Many parents would get just as upset about that, and there’s no way for the average person to know what a kid has just by looking at them.

    And I’m sorry, but saying “yet” after a question like “is he walking?” is a stupid thing to get upset about. I’ve had people ask the same thing about my kids, and they have absolutely no special needs. You don’t see me freaking out over it just because one of them crawled late and someone tacked on three extra letters at the end of a sentence. A lot of you are being way too uptight.

    And considering the parents I’ve had encounters with, I’m willing to bet that about half of you would be even MORE upset if everyone DID do what you say you want them to, and treat your kids like “normal” kids. Too many parents are attention junkies, and parents of special needs kids are not exception. (And I use “normal” to mean “average,” which special needs children are not. Get over it.)

  66. by Jeff

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I’d like to suggest some of you oversensitive parents thicken your skin up a little. Life’s rough – most of the people in this thread have raised (or lost – imagine that!) children with special needs.

    When my daughter was alive, I didn’t expect everyone to tiptoe or walk on eggshells around me (she had Trisomy 18). I fully expected uninformed questions/comments and I replied patiently.

    So please, expect the worst from people. But in all seriousness, grow up. Society today has become so oversensitive it’s disgusting. I guess you’d prefer it if everyone just gave you a 50 yard radius and didn’t invade your bubble… but then you’d complain “WHY IS EVERYONE AVOIDING ME AND MY SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN??!??!”

  67. by Jessica

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I have to admit that I am guilty of saying some of the things listed in the article. So, to the parents of special needs children: What DO you want to hear?

    Every time I’ve encountered a special needs child, I treat him/her as I would every other. It has always been the parent that feels the need to step in and explain something about their behavior, “Oh, just so you know he is autistic.” I have only the best intentions, but I truly don’t know what to say in response. It’s very uncomfortable. In my experiences, clearly I know there is something different about the child. When I’m approached by a parent to get an explanation for their behavior, it makes me feel like they are asking me to treat them differently, as if me speaking to them as a normal child is inappropriate.

    What is a normal person supposed to respond with? It’s similar to not knowing what to say to a family member when they have an ill loved one. Is there a right thing TO say?? I understand it is a really sensitive situation, but I can’t help but feel that some parents are putting themselves in that situation by saying too much. Just let the kids play and be treated normally, and just offer an explanation when asked! I think people that say these things are incredibly well intentioned and are trying to empathize with you. Please don’t take it to heart if it is not well received.

  68. by shanna

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I do not have a special needs child but some of the comments above such as the ice cream thing and the hand full comments are things that I might hear as well about my 3 children. I think it a shame that society is so hypersensitive that good people can’t say anything with good intention because it MIGHT get misunderstood. Obviously I am not talking about comments that anyone with a right mind would know you shouldn’t say. After reading this, I could see myself avoiding parents of special needs children for fear of being misunderstood……what kind of world would it be if everyone thought that and instead of comments that could be be regarded as insensitive you were met with complete silence?

  69. by PJ

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I have a special needs child and these comments NEvER bother me! Personally, I want people to ask questions so they know what to expect, I want them to be educated and who better to educate than me! I also know I ask a lot of these questions myself, because if it is something I have been through, I want to help direct people where to get help! Many people do not know where to get help, there is tons if paperwork and obstacles to go through to get help for children with special needs! I can’t believe anyone would take offense to “is she walking, crawling, talking” or “she looks like a happy baby” I hear people ask that question to “normal” babies all the time! “you have your hands full” people say that about wild children too or when kids do something funny! As a
    parent of a special child, I hope you keep approaching me, ask me questions, I want to educate as many people as I can! The more people who know about autism, the more accepting society will be! Fortunately, my son has many friends, most who do not even know he is autistic, and he is treated like all the other kids in his class! I don’t feel sorry for myself or my son, why would I make other people feel sorry for us…people say hurtful things all the time, whether you are a “normal” family or not…

  70. by Clementine Kruczynski

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:11 am


    Most of the time a comment made could come across as hurtful to a parent with a special needs child that for you average parent would be fine. Maybe it’s because it’s something they’ve been struggling with for a long time. I got a lot of why isn’t he talking when my son was over a year old. He had been talking, and then lost all words.

    I have lost friends after my son starting showing signs of Autism. I know other people that have as well. Telling me to get over it just isn’t helpful. I try to be understanding of peoples questions, but some people act just like a few commenters here and are rude rude rude!

    When it comes to asking the child their name, and maybe they can’t answer that doesn’t mean skip the child and go right to the parent. I always ask the child first, and if the child can’t, or won’t answer I simply look to the parent. They normally tell me then. Try smiling a little, and stop looking so sorry for us. I don’t want sympathy, I would like understanding. Try to understand what is going on with my son, but please don’t apologize for his dx. I can to terms with this two years before he even had a dx.

    I don’t want people treating my son differently. If my son pushes someone, I apologize, explain what he has going on, and then try to explain to my son why that’s not a nice thing to do. He tries to be nice, but sometimes he gets over excited and can’t help himself. I always correct him.

    Don’t let your child walk all over my child either. Just because my son doesn’t always get upset if another child takes a toy from him, don’t let your child do that without correcting him. I’m sorry, but I don’t let my son get away with that either.

  71. by Jacqui

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:18 am

    I think this is helpful to read for people who don’t know how to respond when faced with friends/acquaintances and children with special needs. I get a lot of these same reactions as a teacher…it’s pretty ridiculous!

    Then again, as a teacher, I would like to point out that many of us treat these children as “lesser” or “not normal” because the parents push us so hard to do so. There seems to be an epidemic of parents wanting the whole world to view their children as “more special” than other children because of their developmental delays or perceived dysfunction. There are so many parents whose children do *not* have a diagnosis, who push so hard to get one, just because they don’t want to accept that their child may just not be as good at some things as other children.

    Also, as a new parent, I have come across a lot of other people in my new parent groups and online groups self-diagnosing their kids because they want to be part of “the club.” It’s like it’s fashionable to have a kid on the autism spectrum. I know that sounds harsh, but I have seen it so often now that I recognize it right away. The behaviors they cite are normal kid behaviors. A kid doesn’t have to be autistic to have meltdowns occasionally! Then they are on Facebook all day talking about how each doctor they’ve visited (and they visit *many*, just trying to find the one they can get to say what they want to hear) just “doesn’t understand” their child. Oof.

    So I agree with Adalia above, somewhat. Not to say that the author is one of these people at all…I think the article makes great points and is very helpful. It’s more just that I feel like the other side needs to be brought up, too…people say stuff like this because a lot of parents expect it or want it. Which is pretty messed up!

  72. by Loreen

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:25 am

    In every area of your life you will hear ignorant comments by people that just don’t know better. I have a special needs child who is pretty grown now and have heard everything…the absolute worst was how long will he live? Really? Only God knows how long any of us will live. I would never even respond to this but my child surpassed all expectations and has excelled past all the “normal” kids. He is emotionally stronger and more driven by the things he has experienced. Guess what? He is special need but that is what made him who he is today! I think parents of special needs are special and strong as well, that is why God chose us to be their parents. If someone is searching for something to say without being offensive I think things such as He sure is happy, wow I wish I had that energy, what beautiful blue eyes, what a cute smile, looks like someone loves their mommy….anything that you’d say to anyone else with a child. I’m proud of my child and the parent I am, God never gives us more then what we can handle which includes lame comments.

  73. by Heidi

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:28 am

    It is helpful to be told what NOT to say to a parent of a child with special needs (I’ve never said any of them except for the “I’m sorry” when I was being told the story of why a child had mental challenges). But what SHOULD a person acctually say? When another parent tells me “My son has autism” or “My daughter has some physical challenges” am I just supposed to say “Oh” or “how interesting”? What IS appropriate to say? And commenting on how cute a child is or how their enjoying their ice cream seems to also cause some problems (things I would say about ANY child) so what CAN I say?

  74. by Clementine Kruczynski

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I really wonder if the people making rude comments on this post are running off at the fingers. Would you say half the rude things you have typed to someones face? Or is it just the fact that we don’t know you, and you don’t have to look anyone in they eye while you type these things.

    Try just being NICE when you meet anyone with kids. A lot of people avoid kids with special needs and their parents. Just say Hi, smile, and be nice :)

  75. by Kierstan

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:30 am

    i have a question for parents of special needs children: i have a 2 month old daughter and i was wondering…well, how did yall know when your child had special needs? did the drs tell you or did yall just have a gut feelong? i am wondering because i want to know if there are any signs i should look for and what to do. i’m sorry if i hurt anyones feleings, but im young single mother and i constantly worry. if anyone ahs the time, please respond. thank yall

  76. by tiffany

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I just have to say I’m not bothered by anyone’s comments unless they are obviously trying to be hurtful. People are hurtful every day to “normal” ppl. I have 5 children under the age of 7. My oldest 2 have special needs and my 2nd to youngest is showing signs. Some people may think I shouldn’t have had more kids. I don’t care what anyone thinks but if anyone asks me a question I am more than willing to answer it. Yes I do have my hands full and life is a little more challenging but it’s also fulfilling and happy. Don’t feel sorry for parents of special needs children, we are all just dealing with the cards we are dealt :)

  77. by michelle

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I also have two children, neither of which are special needs, but get the “hands full” comments all the time as well as “happy kids” of course I don’t take offense to it, it’s wonderful to hear. I do have to admit that some of the comments above are rude and just plain insensitive. Unfortunately some people are just that way. :(
    I did find myself in a situation recently where I was conversing with the mom of a special needs girl who was playing with my son, I wanted to ask her about her daughter because I wanted to learn and understand, but didn’t have the right words to do so. The “what’s wrong” option ran through my mind, but I didn’t say it because it just sounded wrong and potentially hurtful…so I didn’t ask. :(

    Perhaps those of you with that are offended can help us with wording that will show that we are genuinely interested in learning about your children as we would any child. Maybe that should be a follow up article.
    Some people are rude, I would agree. However, some of us like conversing and are genuinely interested.
    I hope that I haven’t offended anyone. :)

  78. by babygurls

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I seriously don’t care if someone asks me what’s wrong. I use it as an opportunity to educate. A lot of people just don’t understand what is involved with a special needs child. It does change your life. Between therapies and melt downs and a lot of times one parent having to quit work to stay home and take care of the special needs child.we have 4 kids. 1 has autism and 1 has cerebral palsy and other brain damage. A family walk can be a chore. It may be life changing but its not the end of the world. Its a new kind of normal. My only beef I’ve had from strangers was two different incidences where my non verbal autistic daughter was screeching in a store and a lady said she was annoying her. The 2nd is when a man pointed and made fun of my cp daughter trying to walk. He was laughing at loud at her and making snide comments. People being mean bother me. Not when people say god bless me or I have my hands full. What mom doesn’t?

  79. by Kierstan

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:40 am

    also, sorry for all the typos. my baby started crying and i typed it really fast

  80. by Clementine Kruczynski

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:43 am

    @ Kierstan

    I personally knew something was going on between 12 and 16 months. My son lost all language, and stopped responding to his name, stopped making eye contact, and other things like that. Look at the average development for a 2 month old. As long as your child is close to that everything is fine. If she falls behind, bring it up to her doctor. They will want to keep an eye on things. As long as she keeps progressing things will be fine. Try not to worry too much. Your child will do things at her pace, which may be ahead of the curve or behind the curve. If you have a gut feeling that something is going on, then talk to your child doctor about it. Good luck! Being a parent is a full time job, and we all worry. Regardless of where on the average scale our child falls.

  81. by Trix

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I don’t get the problem with half the stuff you are so offended by. I say you look like you have your hands full to anyone with a kid usually as I am opening a door for a mom trying to push a stroller and a grocery cart or just trying to drag two or three kids through the mall. Hell it never even occurred to me that could be offensive people say it to me when I am out with my two all the time usually my response is an emphatic YES I do and a laugh. My brother has cerbral palsy and he can’t talk but he loves to make noises he can make a sound exactly like a dove it is very pretty , but when you have a normal looking 22 year old walking around cooing people look if they ask us something, we explain if they say god bless you or aww how sad we take it as it is meant they want to be kind and don’t know what else to say. My niece has angelmans and the way she walks is adorable and amazing it took her so long to finally get it and I think it is cute, beautiful and perfect. Just because someone uses the wrong word does not make them awful it seems to me like nit picking is what is happening here. I get that it is hard. I grew up with it and the stress and doctors appointments and health scares. Not everyone knows what it is like and they are curios. I say if they have the nerve to stop staring and ask questions or offer consolation,help or whatever good for them.

  82. by Heidi

    On July 22, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I cannot believe how some of you without special needs children can sit back and call us whiners, and tell us to get over it, how can you be so mean? Let me ask you people something, how do you feel when you’ve been up all night with a screaming baby and you call your friend/mother/sister or someone else who has a teenager to complain about how tired you are, and they respond “pfff… give me a screaming baby any day, wait till he/she is a teenager” Makes your blood boil doesn’t it? After all, how could they belittle what you’re going through, it’s a genuine feeling after all, yes? WELL SO ARE OURS! These threads are meant for those who want to be educated, not for people to completely destroy our feelings! Feelings are feelings, and if you don’t like ours, then STOP READING! Everyone needs an outlet, did you ever think that it makes us feel better to talk it out to others who know what it’s like? It is not easy to be a parent of a special needs child, and I’m sorry but you know what, we are special, we are special b/c we have learned things about life that you ignorant, uneducated people will NEVER learn, and you know what? It’s probably best that you don’t b/c you don’t have what it takes to make it as a parent of a special needs child! It’s hard to be a parent with or without special needs children, but I will say this in defense of these parents, and back me up parents, How many of those people asked you those questions or made comments like “looks like you have your hands full” or “is he talking/walking/or something else, yet”, before they were well aware of the fact that your child was disabled? Because those questions may be “normal” questions you may ask of anyone with average children, but when a child has downs, or CP, or is clearly autistic, and you ask these questions or make those comments reflecting on the disability, well that’s when it’s insulting!!
    For those who want to really be human beings and want to actually know what to say or do, well, as stated by others, if you see a parent struggling, HELP THEM, if you see a child that is clearly a special needs child, ask the child how old they are, if they can’t respond, mom or dad will, and they will appreciate that you treated their child with the respect of any average child!! TREAT THEM LIKE PEOPLE!! Because that’s what they are, people! Sometimes it’s all in the tone you use!! If you see a special needs child enjoying an ice cream, dont’ look at them with sympathy and sorrow and say, “it’s nice he/she’s enjoying that ice cream.” who says that? You say with enthusiasm, “wow, look at you enjoy that yummy ice cream” or “someone is really loving that ice cream cone, I can see it all over your face” (with a wink and a smile) Just be yourself, and teach your children to do the same, tolerance starts with children! Look passed the disability, and see a big old heart, b/c that’s what there is, all heart!!
    One last thing is, talk with the parent, and involve the child in the conversation, and be genuine! Don’t do it to ammuse yourself, or treat us like a science project! And thank you for being genuinely interested, and wanting to know WHAT to say!
    For the rest of you, go back to your life, leave us alone, don’t read anymore if it “offends” you, and by all means, when you see us in the store, do turn in the other direction and run, you’re doing all of us a favor! With your attitudes and I’d rather feel like you’re avoiding me then deal with your lack of human decency!

  83. by betsy Weaver

    On July 22, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Ok so I also hate a lot of these things but what really gets to me is when my son loses his temper in public I always hear at least once I can’t believe how patient you are with him… Really would it be better if both of us were screaming and throwing things??? What else am I supposed to do? The only way to talk him down is just that if you really want to help try entertaining my other three while I restrain my 6 year old from completely trashing the place. I also can’t stand it when I hear “a good spanking will solve that problem real quick” Wow really!?! I usually feel the need to respond to that and unfortunately I don’t have the same patience with strangers that I do with my son… :) But I am always happy when not dealing with a lost temper to explain and educate others about autism, it’s a wonderful and fascinating subject and all questions no matter how ill put are welcome when asked by someone who wants to know!

  84. by Babydoll920

    On July 22, 2011 at 11:13 am

    I personally have not had a child who has special needs, but in my opinion every parent has it hard with their child, and every child is special no matter what the case, some comments I have read are crude, and have no excuse to be mentioned to anyone, such as “why would you have another one after having one like that” thats simply rude, my grandfather had a ruptured brain annurism *sp?* and 2 strokes afterwords, now he is driving and eating by himself and living in his own apartment (with his wife) while he still can’t speak or move like he used to, I love him the same and had to deal with other ppl asking him whats wrong with him. I suppose its natural for anyone to ask whats wrong, but theres no need to forget common sense and common curtousy, Any parent is a strong parent, and any parent would be offended to someone being inconsiderate to their child, no matter if they are special needs, or have emotional disorders, the comment of “I’m so sorry” I dont know if I would take that as an insult myself, I would like to think that they say that because they are sorry that the child has to deal with the doctor appointments and other things more so than other children, not that they are sorry for them in general. You are all wonderfull parents who love their children very much keep your heads up and just try to ignore ignorant people :)

  85. by Kristi

    On July 22, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I find this rude and offensive and I have a special needs child. My son is a constant stressor, but I start each day fresh with a positive attitude. I don’t know how I would get through my days if I had had a chip on my shoulder like this poster. Why would anyone get upset if someone says you have it hard/have your hands full? I do have my hands full, and it makes me feel better when people understand and appreciate that.

  86. by Kurt

    On July 22, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Yes, as a kid with polio I heard: Will he ever be normal, and Will he always be like THAT.

    I knew they didnt sound right to me, but I also knew they were not meant to offend.

    Bit its interesting I never forgot them.

  87. by Jessica

    On July 22, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Many of the comments cited by parents of special needs children are comments made in good faith. “You have your hands full” is a comment I have made many times to parents whose children appear “normal.” It simply acknowledges that parenting is a lot of work. I think those that say “I couldn’t do what you do” and similar comments are speaking out of admiration and awe of all the work and time parents give to their special needs children. Comments such as these are made in good faith. Blatantly rude comments should of course never be made. Since so many comments made in good faith are apparently offensive, I’ll be sure to say nothing to a parent/child who appears to have special needs. As it is human nature to look at someone who appears different, everyone will likely continue to do that. It is out of curiosity that people look. Is looking and saying nothing preferrable?

  88. by Melinda

    On July 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    My brother started getting sick at the age of 4, but 14 he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. However, I know many moms have the gut feeling and many are diagnosed by the doctor. Some children are born with disabilities while others develop them over time. If you feel that your child may have some sort of disability, you should speak with your physician.

  89. by SarahM

    On July 22, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Great. This article makes me even more timid about engaging in conversation with a family that has a child with special needs. In an attempt to avoid saying these 7 things I’m probably going to say something else equally (unintentionallly) offensive.

  90. by betterthanever

    On July 22, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    check out this link…

    i always love my son’s response(his mind sees in 2 colors black & white)to the stranger statement, “you have you’re hands full”…. “no, she doesn’t! she carries her her bag on her shoulders!”

    a simple smile will do, thanks.

  91. by Emily

    On July 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    These articles always seem to annoy me more than the innocent comments of uninformed people. I’m sure the authors of the numerous articles like this that I’ve seen are just venting, but it always seems to me like they are making just as many assumptions about others as they think the others are making about them and their child(ren). I’m incredibly socially awkward myself, and I have a speech issue where words don’t always come out of my mouth in the way (or even in the order) that I intend. My son has been diagnosed with high functioning autism. Personally, I identify more strongly with the people who are “saying the wrong thing.” Sure, there may be a few people who deliberately make rude and hurtful comments, but I think most people are trying make a connection, and just don’t know how or have their own trouble expressing themselves. Maybe the person talking to you has their own special needs, and you, as a “normal” parent with a special needs child need to get over YOUR stereotypes of assuming that the other person is “normal” & just rude. I’m sure you wouldn’t want your child treated like that as an adult. I would like to feel like I’m not going to be judged for reaching out and trying to make a connection to someone else.

  92. by JP

    On July 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I try not to be offended. I think most people mean well, or just don’t know any better. One thing that gets under my skin a little, is when people look at my boy with DS and say, “Oh, they’re always so happy” or “They’re such sweet people.” I know these people mean well, but they’re making a generalization. I wish people would understand that people with DS are just as different from each other as everyone else. My son is going through a particularly difficult time right now and I usually grimace and say, “Not always, believe me!” Anyway, I wish people would comment on the specific child… “He looks happy today, is he always so happy?” or “What a sweetie!” or whatever… not just guess about his personality because he has DS. But I don’t get offended about it, I just try to gently educate….

  93. by mylifeasitis

    On July 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    You must have the patience of a saint.

  94. by brandy

    On July 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    my twins were preemies and when i had my csection it was noticed that one of my babies had a velamentous umbilical cord and the dr says wow most babies i have seen with this died in utero while im in surgery im thinking thanks for sharing that. they spent 3 weeks in the nicu and have been very behind on all there motor skills and have finally caught up at 2 now they dont talk so i had one evaluated a few weeks ago and the other is coming up. one of my twins fell and broke his leg last week and is in a full cast from his chest down to his toes so he had an appointment the other day and the nurse comes in to see him and was asking him questions that i suppose most 2yo could answer and i said he dosent talk and she says aahhh have you had him checked…i said checked for what, what people need to understand is that mothers are very sensitive about there kids and no one wants to think there is something wrong with them and when you know something is and you have no idea what it is yet and people ask me all the time what are they saying all i can say is i dont know and when they ask how old they are and i say 2 and they want to know why they cant talk. so far all i know is they are 9m behind on language and yes i have had them CHECKED and yes were working on finding out why

  95. by Anna

    On July 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    There should definitely be a follow-up post highlighting things people CAN say without offending all those parents of special needs kids who have that chip on their shoulder! To expect everyone to know how to behave towards something unfamiliar to them is unfair. In my humble opinion, this applies to ALL who face adversity. I’ve said ‘You are a saint’ to parents with kids who DON’T have special needs kids! I think all parents who do their best and maintain patience in child-rearing can be qualified as saints! It’s a figure of speech! I’ve said ‘I’m sorry’ to a child with allergies because he couldn’t eat the cool cake at a birthday party! If a special needs child can’t partake in something fun that an average child can, I feel for them! And I might just let those words slip out, ‘I’m sorry’.What’s so wrong with that? So, I guess, I will just keep my mouth shut from now on and smile for fear of offending anyone….until your follow-up of things we CAN say, of course! :)

  96. by JenT

    On July 22, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I have friends with kids with Aspergers, and I have sure said some of those things, and they’ve never given me any issues over it. Is it in the delivery? Is it because they know me, and when I acknowledge they have challenges (because hey, they tell me about it) they aren’t offended? I don’t know… I know I’ve also said many of the same things to “normal” kids and parents. I just talk to everyone who comes near my little guy on the playground.

    So, I’ve read through all these comments looking for what’s acceptable opening conversation, and I haven’t found anyone really give concrete examples. PLEASE do, because now I’m afraid to say anything to anyone who may have special needs kids who I don’t personally know. I’m there to be friendly, not offensive. HELP!!!

  97. by Paxton

    On July 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    i’m not a parent, but someone with disabilities who was raised by awesome parents.
    now that i’m off in the world (most of the time…. i still live at home but attend a local college) i get the questions now. my least favorite is “what’s wrong with you?” it’s not that i dont want anyone to notice i’m *gasp* different (the wheelchair and braces do that for me) but i wish they wouldn’t ask me what was “wrong” with me. i dont mind nearly as much is someone asks what the name of my disability is or how it effects me, or if they say something like “we’re going camping, is that something you’d be able to do?” and then let me decide if it’s within the scope of my abilities instead of just saying “it would be too hard for you” and not invite me. an invitation that i have to turn down is so much better than finding out about something by seeing everyone’s happy pictures on facebook and not have even known something was happening!

  98. by Nicole

    On July 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Let me start off by saying “Get over it”? Really? I don’t know about some of the “things not to say”, but that should definitely be on the list. What an ignorant and cold thing to say. Your parents must be so proud to have raised such a belligerent and thoughtless child. :/

    Secondly, to the parents with children with special needs, I sincerely hope you know how lucky you are. :) You get to experience life through the eyes of someone completely unprejudiced, who can see the world for the wonderful, remarkable and interesting place it is.
    In my religion we are taught that children with severe mental handicaps are the angels that threw Lucifer and his followers out of heaven and they were born that way to protect them from Satan’s wrath. Isn’t that a lovely thought? That your children were so valiant before they even came to Earth that they receive that extra protection?
    Besides, you get to learn things and understand things that people otherwise would not know or understand. How lucky is that?
    I don’t have children yet (still working on it), but I have many nieces and nephews with autism, social and learning disabilities, I’ve worked with the special needs class when I was in high school as well as at a care center for adults with special needs when I was 19. I’ve gotten to know these people AS people, not as autism in the form of so-and-so, but not everyone is that lucky.
    It’s the job of our parents to teach us that no matter what someone looks like, how they act or how they think, that they are equals and should be treated as such. My parents instilled that in me from day one and even though I’m not perfect and didn’t have my first exposure to someone with a disability until high school, I was more annoyed by the fact they were more popular that I was (true story :) ) than that they didn’t act or look the same as myself or that they weren’t verbal and would make sounds that were more or less distracting if nothing else.
    I hope the next time I ever see a mother with a child with special needs who is feeling down on herself for the lot she was drawn that I can tell her how lucky she is and she will take it to heart. In the meantime I hope that parents will not take offense to my curiosity (I’ll try to word my questions carefully) and hope that in return, the parents will understand that I’m not asking in shock, bewilderment or pity, but in a desire to understand more about those of us more lucky than ourselves.

  99. by Christie

    On July 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    My daughter screamed her head off in the car until she was 16 months old, and the only question/comment that really irked me was, “really? most kids LOVE the car!” REALLY?! That’s helpful, thank you.

    Tell you what…I’d MUCH rather have people ask questions than just stare!!

  100. by Jessi

    On July 22, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I really don’t get offended by most of these. Some of the time, it’s nice to hear that someone can see that it is a struggle to be a parent. I do get offended when (and this happens frequently) I hear people call my son birth control. He has ADHD, ODD, Asperger’s, and was witness to domestic violence in our home before his father and I divorced. One particular experience at Secretary of State was so upsetting I cried for the whole hour and a half drive home. He was being completely defiant, not listening, wanting to run around, hurting me, etc, and there were at least 25 people making comments to me or to other about him. Many of them were from parents to their teenaged daughters about that being good birth control. I had one woman tell me that she hopes I don’t have any more kids. Every once in a while, and older person in a store will come over to him and say something to him about needing to be nice to his mother and that he should listen to me. I actually appreciate people like that. And I won’t soon forget the man who witnessed him hurting me while waiting in a long check out line and offered to me to go next in front of him in the checkout next to the one I was in line for. Everyone has different sensitivity levels and are entitled to them. I see people commenting to all kinds of people that they have their handles full with their kids, special needs or not. It doesn’t bother me because, hey, I do have my hands full. I had a friend of mine, who is a family counselor doing the same job my son’s therapist does for us during home visits, who said she was sorry about the diagnosis when I told her. It didn’t offend me. In fact, I was happy for the diagnosis because it meant a number of things: one, there is a reaon he is the way he is, two, we might actually get some help to figure out how the heck to deal with things, and three, it meant I’m not crazy or a bad parent.

  101. by amy

    On July 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    my favorites about my son with autism:
    “but he’s so cute, there can’t be anything wrong with him” (various get this ALL THE TIME)

    “ma’am here’s my belt, you can find me in the produce section of the store later on after you take him out back.” (grocery shopping meltdown)

    “there’s nothing wrong with him… look! he’s running around the table just fine.” (School official at IEP meeting)

  102. by ChristineNJack

    On July 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I love this blog! As a single mom, I’m inspired to write 7 Things Not To Say to A Single Mom.
    1. How do you do it?
    2. Where’s his dad?
    3. Do you have a job (um more like a career)
    4. He’s a great kid, but… (BUT NOTHING …

    and I’ll continue this blog on Mama’s Boy!

    Ellen, you ROCK!

  103. by stephanie

    On July 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    The most hurtful, degrading, horrible thing I have had said to me is “Oh leave him with me for a couple days I will have him walking/talking/running/jumping”
    “Just do not give him anything to eat or drink until he asks for it clearly and you can understand every word”
    “He’s not walking/talking/running/jumping yet? What is WRONG with him? He looks like he’s normal!”

    This has all been said in front of my amazing son. Most of these adults could learn from my son who is so loving, not judgemental, giving and kind.

  104. by sassymom

    On July 22, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I really appreciate all of these posts and comments. That being said, every parent has their own bag of challenges, I would NEVER say most of these things to any parent. I think that those who do, probably say ridiculous things to all parents. Unsolicited advice from strangers on how to raise your children will almost always be offensive. I would like to mention, however, that I say things like “bless his heart” about all kids, when they do something kind, persevere, or keep trying at any task. Parents are often warriers for and with their children. Take a breath & save your energy, sometimes parents are just trying to bond with other parents, differences aside. EVERY child is a miracle.

  105. by Jolyse Barnett

    On July 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    As my special needs child ages, I am better able to handle all the well-meaning yet insensitive comments. I don’t worry about what people think as much as I used to. Also, I feel like more people are educated about my child’s autism than they were ten years ago, so I have much less to explain.

    The lingering issue I have is with well-meaning people who insist my child could “overcome” his autism with stricter rules. “He just has to learn he can’t always get his way.” Yeah, I think my child learned that pretty early on, it’s not like he chose to be different.

    Hang in there, everyone. Enjoy the journey with your beautiful, unique family!

  106. by Joanna

    On July 22, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    As a sister of a child with special needs I have heard it all. I stepped up and took partial custody of my brother at 18, but don’t get it twisted, I was caring for him long before 18. Both of my parents are in upper management.
    I have been asked of hens my son, and is that why he has special needs (because I was so young)? I have been asked questions about our race differences affection his needs (he is adopted from guatimalla). I have been told that I’m a fantasic person… Which I’m not perfect, when people see him, my son, and I out in public.

    First off, let me say… As a caretaker of anchored with special needs, we do A LOT!!! And people do notice this. We should try not to be offended by remarks about “how we are great patents” or “I could never do that.”
    People are not trying to be rude. They are simply trying to express how they think it’s great that we have taken on such things that would be chalenging to them. Often as adults we all say things that come out as offensive!!!! Who hear hasnt had an open mouth insert foot moment?? Be honest!

    My only thoughts here are that people who do not/ and have not had to care for a child with special needs do not fully understand what we do go through and how awesome our life is!!!!! Who hear hasn’t thought to themselves, how awesome is my child!!!! the trials are tough, but the moments of accomplishment are fully amazing!

    Let’s try and educate people on our children ad there condition! And do it in a kind and friendly way, even though… Yes it can be hard! Maybe I haven’t mentioned that yes, I’m only 23 and have a brother with severe fine motor issues, is legally blind, has had multiple surgery for clubbed feet… Oh and my son is ADHD positive and has behavior disorders as well.
    If I can deal with it, I completely believe that other can do it too!!! I believe in you!

  107. by chloe

    On July 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    From what I’ve gathered by reading the blog and all the comments is that the parents of special needs children are just as unique as anyome eldeelse. Some things may bother some parents, but thosr samr comments may not bother others. Just as with everthing else in lfife, you rrally can’t please everyyome

  108. by Ali

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    As a mom of 3 special need kids I’ve heard a lot of comments.. I don’t mind “you’ve got your hands full” because I do & I also don’t “you’re a saint/awesome” because I think I am……lol. what gets me is fighting to get my child basic things, ie proper toys at school or a toilet that meets her needs. Those things infuriate me

  109. by liseann

    On July 22, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    I get a lot of these comments as a parent of non-delayed, non-disabled kids. And some aren’t comfortable and some aren’t supportive but I think none of them are intended to hurt anyone. People are probably doing their best to show support and encouragement and maybe just trying to make conversation. What a NEGATIVE, finger-pointing article. I think the more effective way to address this issue is maybe telling people how you would prefer folks to show support that WOULDN’T offend you. Give people a break. Its impossible to understand what you’re going through when you haven’t gone through it yourself, so it is easy to accidentally offend even with the best of intentions.

  110. by Amanda

    On July 23, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Really?? Thi article is ridiculous. Who cares if someone is accidentally somewhat politically incorrect in their approach. If it’s not a volitional malicious act then why not just excuse it as someone attempting tone friendly & sociable who just didn’t hit the nail on the head as far as saying the “right” thing. this article attempts to equate genuine, although possibly ignorant, attempts at interpersonal communication with a gawking whispering onlooker. Please…

  111. by Purnell Meagre

    On July 23, 2011 at 8:05 am

    My grandmother used to tell a joke about a woman holding a baby and crying – don’t remember the whole buildup but the punchline was somebody asking her if she “wanted some peanuts for her monkey.”

  112. by Tracy Asmussen

    On July 23, 2011 at 8:43 am

    My autistic/ brain-injured son is now 26, and I’ve heard it all! It used to take my breath away, those comments: “what a shame!” or “you poor thing” or “you’re so courageous….to have two more children after having P.” but I learned a little technique. Instead of feeling anger, shame, embarrassment, guilt, sorrow, etc…I go at it like a therapist, and turn it around on them, as this not only removes me and my child from the spotlight, I think it might even help this person to consider why on earth they would say such things (to friends,acquaintances, or total strangers), and perhaps why they would even think such things. Turn it around; put yourself in the therapist’s chair, and ask THEM questions (as if you are collecting opinions, analyzing their thoughts, but not in a huffy manner). Some examples, but you can come up with your own once you get the knack of it:
    “What do you mean when you say that?” (then be very quiet and wait); “Really? How do you think you would do/handle it?”; “Is that how you really feel?”; “That’s interesting…..so tell me, why do you feel that way?” ; “What makes you say that?” ; “Where do you get that idea?” and so on. Of course, what we really want to say is, “Where are your manners?” because no one has the right to question other people about their loved ones, whether they are special or not (e.g., “Why does he have so many freckles/is so short/ has red hair/still sucks his thumb, etc”) and I, as the parent of a special child, am under no “special” obligation to educate others unless I am conducting a seminar for people who are “really” interested in learning something (these people aren’t, they are after something else). But then, we would stay upset and angry all day, and we don’t have the time or energy for that, do we? We also have to set examples for our children, whether they are special or not, and this is a good opportunity to do it, because they will hear this the rest of their lives and should learn how to deal with it to their own satisfaction (under no obligation to satisfy anyone’s curiosity or make others feel at ease…we are given a lot of “extra” responsibilities but that isn’t one of them.) If you want to see people stutter, turn red, or stand there absolutely speechless biting their tongues, without having to appear offended (after all, we’re just curious and want to know things too:), then give it a shot. And have a nice day.

  113. by johnnn

    On July 23, 2011 at 8:50 am

    This is article condescending towards all the “non-special needs” kid’s parents. We have every right to respond to the situation as our heart or mind guides us. If we are mistaken we’ll be told so I presume by the army of angry special needs parents. What should we say; “what’s his/her name”, “how old is he/she” – the standards?
    Saying anything other than the standard lines means we are engaged and feeling something whether or not we express it politically correctly or not…be grateful for that.

  114. by Norco

    On July 23, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Is that your moron?

    I hate when they ask if my tard is my son.I always deny it when they do.I usually say “I’m just taking care of Mongo to work off some community service”.

  115. by Mel

    On July 23, 2011 at 8:54 am

    I wasn’t aware that trying to express some compassion for people was so offensive. I have often said “you look like your have your hands full” to many parents, regardless of whether their children were so-called normal or not – mostly their kids were crying or yelling. Where I live it’s just a sort of conversation starter when you’re stuck in a line or a way to express that you recognize someone feeling frazzled or having a rough day. It’s not said in a hateful tone. And I’ve never had anyone upset at me for saying it or at least they never freaked out in person.

    I’ve said “that must be tough but it looks like you’re handling it” — I’ve said it to stressed out friends who don’t even have kids. Some of the comments listed here are just things that are general statements I might make to anyone to attempt to show some support. I’ve asked a lady at work what her son likes to do, because he’s autistic and lives in a group home during the week. I’ve asked what activities he likes to do at home. I’ve done this to learn more about her son and to show an interest in them as a person, not because I think he’s “abnormal”

    I have NEVER told someone I’m sorry for their kid, or did they have normal ones at home or why did they have the children? etc That’s tacky, rude, and utterly thoughtless.

    that being said, I realize a lot of people had made insensitive and RUDE remarks, but some of us are just making general conversation or trying to express a little compassion. I treat you like I treat anyone else. Maybe you should take some of the comments in the spirit they are being given – if a person is not using a rude tone or making obviously hateful, ignorant remarks, maybe it’s time to be a little less sensitive about every single thing until people are afraid to even open their mouths and speak to you OR your child.

  116. by M. R. K.

    On July 23, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I had a daughter with ADD and a son with autism who was a screamer. I don’t mind people saying, “You have your hands full,” because I do! (So do other parents.)

    I do mind people saying rude and insensitive things. When people would say something inappropriate, I would give them a funny look and ask, “Do you always begin conversations this way?” Which throws it back on them and makes them realize they were out of line. They usually apologize and stammer out an explanation. I’m then happy to answer (reasonable) questions. I won’t answer unreasonable questions like, “Why didn’t you abort him?”

    A statement like, “I couldn’t do what you do” is a really bad thing to say, not because it offends me, but because it makes me feel sorry for your kids. Parents take care of their kids. That’s what parents do. If you can’t do that, better not have any kids.

    You also shouldn’t ask a child his or her name — it’s a safety issue. Creeps who want to get their hands on kids will try to find out the child’s name because it’s such a powerful tool for manipulating the child or other adults who might intervene. What happens if Creep carries off Johnny, and Johnny is screaming and fighting him, so store security stops them, and Creep says, “Johnny’s having a tantrum. I need to take him home.” If Johnny’s nonverbal, he can’t say, “This isn’t my Dad!” Creep wins. Bottom line: You don’t need to know the child’s name to be nice to him or her.

    Instead, ask the child a non-identifying question, like, “How old are you?” or “Are you having fun this summer?” Even if the child doesn’t answer, be patient. My son has a language impairment, so it takes a while for him to answer. If you don’t wait long enough, it frustrates him. Say at least a couple of things to the child before giving up on the conversation. Also, don’t assume that because the child doesn’t make eye contact he’s not aware of you.

    Respect any cues the child gives you. If they hide behind mama’s legs, they don’t want to talk to you. If they suddenly starting going on about their Transformer toy they just bought, listen patiently. It also helps if you move to the child’s level, eg, if she’s in a stroller, kneel down so that you’re on eye level with the child. If a kid has trouble talking to people, talking to your knees isn’t going to make it any easier for them.

    The other thing is, you don’t need to know what my child’s condition is. Do you actually want to know, or are you just being nosy? You can treat a child with kindness and consideration without knowing their diagnosis. In fact, the way you treat my child is going to have a lot to do with me deciding whether I want to talk to you. If you’ve treated my child kindly, then I’ll be happy to talk to you. If you don’t even say hi to my kid, then talk about him like he’s some kind of freak, I don’t want to talk to you.

    While some parents are happy to educate you, others are too damned tired or busy to be your personal mentor. Although I was usually willing to talk to polite people, if I was on my way to a doctor’s appointment or worn out, then I didn’t have the time or feel up to it. Do not view me as your ‘walking wikipedia.’ If you want to ask questions, respect the parent. “Do you mind if I ask a question?” is a good way to begin because then I can say, “I don’t normally mind, but I have a headache today and I don’t really feel up to it.” Or, if I am willing to answer questions, I’ll say, “Sure! I don’t mind. I don’t promise I’ll answer them all, but you can ask.”

    The other thing is–educate yourself! Are you only curious about disabilities when you see a child with an obvious disability? If you actually care about disabilities, why not take it upon yourself to pick one and look it up online?

    Don’t assume what kids can and can’t do, or how long it will take them to do it, or anything. Asking “Is s/he doing X yet?” is rude. If you’re a stranger, my child’s medical condition is none of your damn business! How would you like it if someone asked you, “So, have you gotten over your incontinence yet?” If it’s rude to say to an adult, it’s rude to say to a child.

    If you suspect the parent is having difficulty with the child, offer help. “Can I give you a hand with anything?” is a neutral way of offering. That lets the parent tell you what, if anything, would be helpful. Once I was hanging onto my screamer and trying to handle a shopping cart. I said, “Yes, actually, we need to checkout so we can go home. Would you mind pushing the cart to the register for me?” The person did, and it made my life just a little bit easier.

    The other thing to do is to try and distract a screamer/thrasher. Novelty often captures the child’s attention and interrupts the screaming. Address your attention to the child, not the parent. When I do this, I look at the child, and ask, “Are you having a hard day today?” If the child is verbal they might very well tell me just what they’re upset about. As long as they’re talking, they’re not screaming, so that’s good. I keep them talking. If they’re nonverbal they can’t answer, but I just keep talking to them in a friendly way. This only works about 50% of the time, but when it does, the child calms down. If it doesn’t work, I give the parent a smile and say, “I had a screamer too. Sometimes I can get them to settle down.”

    The bottom line, is doesn’t matter if the child has a disability or not. Every child has good days and bad days. Offering help and being polite shouldn’t depend on whether the child is disabled or not. Being a decent human being that shows respect for others is what it’s all about.

  117. by Momoftwo

    On July 23, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I don’t have a special needs child, but I do have twins and get a lot of comments, most of which don’t bother me b/c they come from the right place. What I am wondering is what is appropriate for people to say? I have read articles where mothers of special needs children are angry b/c people ignore their child and now this article where they are annoyed that people try to start a conversation, so where’s the happy medium? It’s unfortunate that people don’t understand that most people are just trying to make conversation based on a situation which they rarely encounter and don’t have vast experience dealing with and so words may not always be the most sensitive. I will grant you that many things mentioned are downright rude, but many others are not. If you’d like people to be more educated about a certain condition, and I know you may not want to be the teacher, don’t be defensive and inform or refer them to a website b/c you are in the best position to be an educated source. And for those who get the comment I don’t know how you do it, I get that comment all of the time, I say…not so well on some days but better on most and I just give it my best effort. It’s the truth!

  118. by Pete

    On July 23, 2011 at 10:21 am

    For those who have difficulty with the insensitive comments people make regarding your children. The following approach has brought me peace.

    The vast majority of people are relatively decent. The insensitivity comes mostly from ignorance, being raised improperly, or stupidity. Given the limitations of myself and my own child, I cannot fault them too greatly for their own.

    When someone makes an ignorant or insensitive comment, I chalk it up to their own issues.

    Like all people, my child has challenges. His are just a little different. There isn’t anything “wrong” with my child, and their inability to see his worth and beauty beyond his limitations is their loss, not mine.

  119. by PArent

    On July 23, 2011 at 10:22 am

    This list seems a bit oversensitive. I have special needs child in my family, and I wouldn’t be offended by these things. People are just tryingto be nice – especially the “you have your hands full.” get over yourselves.

  120. by Steven Olsen

    On July 23, 2011 at 10:31 am

    “You shouldn’t have vaccinated him.”

    The level of ignorance that some people have is astounding.

  121. by Amy

    On July 23, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I have three non-special needs children, and I also get a lot of the comments you guys are posting. It’s a weird thing about comments like that – people actually care and are trying to make conversation!

    I’ve been told I have my hands full. And yes, I do! I’ve been asked how old my kids are by parents on the playground, not because they think my kids are stupid, but because they are curious or trying to drum up a conversation with a parent of a child the same age as theirs.

    It’s because of super defensive parents like some of you that I feel I have to avoid special-needs children. If my kids want to play with them on the playground and my kids can do more than the special needs child you might get mad at me. If I ask how old your child is because I want to break the ice and start a conversation, you’ll probably swear and yell at me. I’m not speaking about ALL parents of special needs children, just the select few that are easily offended over nothing and not afraid to say it. Loudly.

  122. by amy

    On July 23, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Sometimes over sensitive parents are a special needs child’s biggest obstacle.

  123. by Robin

    On July 23, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    I think what we, parents of special needs children, need to remember is that we are the ambassadors of all special needs people. People expect us to know answers and to educate them. My son is 2 and I’ve had to women call him a “retard” and not in a medical way. We as parents have to know how to handle this and not let it affect us so much. We have an entire lifetime of questions and comments. We need to be able to teach our special needs children and typical children how to react to these situations without being so hurt. Yes you need to have a thick skin and it develops slowly. Also when someone says to me, “I don’t know how you do it” or “your so amazing, so strong” I say, “Yep Ive got mother of the year, better luck next time!” you have to find humor in your life! Dammit I do work hard for all of my kids and I will take some credit thank you! Haha

  124. by emmigeek

    On July 24, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    The comments here are….. interesting and enlightening. Goes to show what really gets to some doesn’t phase another.

    I have 4 special needs children. My eldest (technically my stepson) has mild brain damage from an accident as a small child. I have two Aspergers and one ADHD who we are doing more tests to determine what all is going on. I also have 5 other children who fall under the “normal” range.

    My children are all unique and wonderful and have their own challenges to overcome whether they are officially “special needs” or not, they are special.

    That said the only comment that ever gets me is when people tell me “You need to discipline them more.” which I’ve only encountered a few times and that was usually AFTER answering questions about their behavior. The biggest reason it bothered me because it isn’t about discipline. I do not “allow” my children to meltdown/have bedtime accidents/ask the same question over and over and over etc. Which I tried to explain.

    We all decide how we take people’s comments about any given subject. I ask myself “Am I ever going to see this person again? Is it going to change how I feel about my dear child?” chances are the answer is going to be no. But my reaction to the person making the comment might go a long way in opening their eyes and teaching them about what is not “normal”. I think we sometimes lose sight about what is really important especially when we are over-stressed over worked and under slept.

  125. by Sadign

    On July 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Lots of comments about what someone isn’t suppose to say in the politically correct world. So…how about a post about what you should say. ‘Cause if you say nothing then you are considered rude because you ignoring someone.

  126. by Brandy D Shifllet

    On July 24, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    One I get all the time is “She drives that wheelchair so well!” Well if you had been driving since before you turned 2 and it was your only way to get around on your own you would too! Another one that makes me mad is “Can she walk?” That one really gets to me! My daughter has never walked and never will! She wants to more than anything!

  127. by LP

    On July 25, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    I have a young boy with an incurable terminal degenerative disease. He is neither physically nor mentally disabled right now and we are unsure just how bad things will get but we will always hope for the best. I think getting so wound up about what people say or how they ask about our kids makes your own and your kids lives so much more difficult. Yes it’s harder for us… Be honest… Stress, heartbreak, broken sleep. The list is endless. We do have our hands full. My kid is like all other kids and I will only ever treat him this way. if I start demanding that people only ask about him in certain ways then I am pointing out his differences more than anyone else could. People who do not know how to ask the supposedly right way about our kids are lucky because they do not have the heartbreak we do to have to see all the hardships our kids face in their young lives. Before my son was diagnosed I would have been just as ignorant about the right way to ask and so would most of us if truth be told. Kids are a blessing no matter how they come and I wouldn’t change my son for the world, he makes me a better person every minute of the day. I just wish it wasn’t at his expense.

  128. by Kathleen

    On July 26, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    My boy has cochlear implants (They help my deaf boy hear). Some of my least favorite comments are the ones when grownups are guessing whats on his head. The most common guess is “dude, love your headphones!” Really, headphones on his head? Or, my all time favorite, “Why are you making your child listen to music?!” My response to this attack, “I wish! We wouldn’t need these if he could listen to music.” Please don’t guess…you’ll get it wrong. Just ask…I love to educate.

  129. by Christine

    On July 27, 2011 at 8:29 am

    He/she is SO lucky to have you!

    Every functioning family is lucky to have each other. Children with special needs are not required to be extra grateful.

  130. by Jennifer

    On July 27, 2011 at 8:41 am

    As a parent of a special needs child. I do not take offense when anything like this is said to me. My oldest son has mild cerebral palsy/adhd and aspergers, my youngest son has severe ADHD. Yes, my life is beyond hectic sometimes. I’m not sure why everyone is getting offensive about comments in regards to that. Now yes, there are some comments like is CP contagious are just rude. But lets think about this… if we are parents did NOT have a child with a disability would we really no any better? Would we have taken the time to learn about ALL of the disabilities out there. No we wouldnt have. So as parents of children with disabilities it is part of our job to teach others and help them understand the differences. We have the knowledge to help them understand. How else are they going to learn? If we teach them, they can teach their children and so on. Its not like these things are taugh in school. Knowledge is the key and sharing it is the way to go.

  131. by Kelly

    On July 27, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Here’s my question: So, what am I SUPPOSED to say when a friend of mine tells me her child has developmental challenges? Obviously I can’t just stare at her without emotion. She’s going to expect a response. But it seems like almost every single way I could possibly respond has been shot down, either in the article or in the comments, and twisted like I am saying it with the intent to hurt the other mother, which would never be the intention. I would never say something meaning for it to be harmful or hurtful. I’m not saying I would EVER use some of the phrases discussed in the comments (“But he/she looks so NORMAL” – what a horrible thing to say!), but I am also not getting the impression that there’s really ANYTHING anyone could respond with that would be taken nicely.

    So what is it then? What’s the magic phrase I can use when a friend tells me this that won’t be able to be construed as “ignorant”, “rude” or “hurtful”?

  132. by rofl done

    On July 27, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Is the first time you’ve commented on something like this before? Good initial thoughts!

  133. by Brett

    On July 27, 2011 at 9:26 am

    As the father of a child with special needs, I have come across every one of those phrases. The “normal” comment is interesting, because I used to think in those terms, until my son taught me better. “Neuro-typical” is the preferred variant of “normal.”

    I also used to feel bad for him, and for me, my wife, and our other children; however, I’ve stopped feeling bad for myself and my other family members and focus on the fact that he is happy and healthy and knows who he is.

    The most disturbing comment I receive quite often is, “He’ll get there one day!” I understand it comes from a good place, but if the people saying it listened to me at all as I describe his condition, they would realize that we don’t know if he will EVER “get there.” I would like to blame it on innocent ignorance, but I usually just finished telling them that no one knows for sure what his future holds. What response would be better? I’m not really sure, but trying to “fix” him with words of blind faith in the future is not helpful. Something like – “It really sounds like HE works hard!” would be a more appropriate response.

    And finally, one thing I wish more people would say is, “So, tell me about your son.” All parents, regardless of their children’s developmental and neurological progress, LOVE talking about their kids! I enjoy nothing more than talking about son and telling the world what a happy and hard working boy he is.

  134. by Brett

    On July 27, 2011 at 9:33 am

    To Kelly:
    Great questions! I address some of those questions in my response. Something I wish people would do more is ask me about him – not his milestones, but about his personality, things we do to help him develop, whether or not anyone can say for sure how he will develop, does it affect his sleep, what other ways could the delays manifest themselves, etc. I understand trying to take a sensitive approach to a sensitive topic, but realize that a lot of parents with special needs answer these questions and monitor their child’s progress in such a way that talking about it helps us to analyze and reflect on what we observe in our children. Ask away! Don’t be shy! Of course, I speak for myself … but I think a lot of parents out there might agree.

  135. by Melissa

    On July 27, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Everyone is different and with the general heading of “children with disabilities” each parent will react differently to each statement. To say parents are whiners or that these are or are not hurtful is going to vary from parent to parent. I believe the article was written to draw attention, to make people aware of what they are saying. I think most of the time if someone is curious, if they simply remember the child is a child first and the developmental delay is a condition the family works with, most offense would be removed from the comments.

    I can say personally a variation of the one listed (You are a saint!) Is a situation that bothers me the most. My daughter has Down Syndrome and we found out when I was 20 weeks pregnant. People tell me when they find out, that I am a saint or angel or brave or some other variation then THANK ME for having my child!!! There was a post earlier that asked if some parents would choose to not have their kids if they knew…sadly, at least with Down Syndrome, this IS the case! 95% of babies with DS do not make it to birth, some because the mothers body aborts the fetus but an equal number by parents choice! I am not personally offended by someone wanting to believe I’m a saint! Hey! If I can do something you don’t think you can then by all means, Ill take it!!! I’m sickened by the comment because it reminds me every day of the parents who let their egos affect life! My daughter may have DS but she is no less a blessing than my two typical boys are and knowing ahead of time that she would have some challenges is absolutely no reason to cut off her life before it even starts!!!

  136. by Vivi

    On July 27, 2011 at 10:23 am

    So, what can you say to parents of kids with special needs?

    My husband’s cousin has a six years old son who has mild autism. Whenever we meet, I usually just pretend as if I’ve never heard of his problem and treated him the same as I treat my other nephews/nieces.

    I don’t feel it’s right as well, as if I don’t acknowledge their situation or worse, as if I don’t care. But I can’t imagine it’s a good thing for the parents to be asked, “How is he?” “Is he improving?” all.the.time.

  137. by MF

    On July 27, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I am also a parent of a special needs child. I am also a parent of a child without special needs and just as many thoughtless comments have been made about my child without special needs as have been made about my special needs child. I agree with LP, if I start demanding that the questions be different, it only serves to point out the difference.

    Actually, the truth is, my child is different. She is not normal. Her life will always be hard and my life and that of our family will always be hard. I am not bothered by any of these questions, with the exception of….

    Did you do drugs while you were pregnant?

  138. by James Durning

    On July 28, 2011 at 11:25 am

    To be honest, a lot of this anger seems misdirected. With normal children, people are going ask if they’re walking, talking, reading, etc… yet. I think it is cute when a child tries anything and struggles; it shows that they are a kid. I think it is dishonest to say that most of these kids will lead normal lives, because generally it will not be the stereotypical ‘normal’ that you think of.

    The comments I can honestly see provoking anger are the ones that somehow blame you or the child, or that imply that the child is something less than a blessing.

    And almost all mothers are saints; that is pretty much a given.

  139. by jessica

    On July 28, 2011 at 11:54 am

    heather if you havent yet google search hemikids great support

  140. by hkw

    On July 28, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Not to be defensive, but maybe the “you’ve got your hands full” comment isn’t targeted at you because your child has special needs. I find myself saying that all the time to parents (especially in the grocery store and especially when I don’t have my own 5-year-old with me): parents of twins, parents with more than two little ones, parents with a particularly energetic toddler or squirmy baby. It’s just my way of saying, “I’m not judging you as your children fall apart in front of me, I’m a parent, too.” In fact, I think I’d be less likely to say it to someone whose child obviously had special needs.

  141. by Samantha

    On July 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    All of you please consider, some of these things ARE normal parent chit-chat. I have a 1 1/2 yr old and an 8 month old. I am always told I must be a busy lady. Well, I have children. I AM busy. I smile and say yeah. People also often ask if they are doing the next big milestone “yet”. I think a lot of this is because you are uncomfortable with your child and feel that people are judging you/them. Most of us aren’t and we are TRYING to make normal parent to parent chit chat by saying things like that.

  142. by jj

    On July 28, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I have a special needs child and I wouldn’t be offended by many (or any) of those remarks. In fact I appreciate the sympathy because I also have a “normal” kid and special needs are HARDER. I wish that he was “normal” and didn’t have to struggle so hard. My only peeve is that I know some people don’t feel comfortable talking about his needs/care and go too out of the way to treat him as a regular baby or sort of avoid him even.

  143. by branD

    On July 28, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    I have two children and people tell me it looks like i have my hands full all the time its not just a comment directed to the fact that you have a special child it is a observation of looking at you the parent

  144. by Monstergirl

    On July 29, 2011 at 5:16 am

    I have three children on the spectrum. Two of them quite severly autistic. I was asked one day “did you get any special training?” I was quite speechless for a moment and then said “yes, pregnancy!!” i cop the stares and the “they look so normal” comment, i also have been told i am a supermum, the other day i had a mini meltdown at home, well actually, major and lamented that i was not a “supermum” just an ordinary woman. “It must be hard” is another well meaning comment i get which doesn’t offend me. Usually i smile and say “it’s what you make of it”. I love my ASD kids and wouldn’t trade them for a NT child EVER!!

  145. by Jen

    On July 29, 2011 at 9:17 am

    My son has autism and I honestly can’t say I related to this article at all. It seems as though the author would rather people don’t say ANYTHING.

    Concerned friends and family who ask questions and want to know what’s going on with my family and my son are WELCOME to ask them. Yes, the wording of “what’s wrong with him” is harsh and if someone actually said that I would, in fact, be offended. But I’ve never encountered that.

    Someone mentioned the response, “Your child is lucky to have you”. It’s a compliment. Take it that way. The person saying it is commending your parenting and a “thank you” to someone who is clearly saying something nice is the appropriate response. I’ve heard this one before and my response is, “It’s hard, but I try. We’re lucky to have (my son) because he’s just so awesome even if some things are harder”.

    Not everyone is out to get you, offend you or cause you pain. Yes, people are uncomfortable. They don’t deal with this stuff every day like we do. What could we possibly expect? If anything, I go out of MY way to make people feel more comfortable around ME so that I can continue to have relationships with people and educate them. Seems like getting offended by well-meaning comments like this could cause the unintended consequence of alienating people who are just trying to be nice and understanding.

  146. by Shannon

    On July 29, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Great piece! My kids are awesome! Good thing is, lots of people see that but if I was told these things i would be sad.

  147. by Bryanne Weaver

    On July 29, 2011 at 10:12 am

    I can see both sides, why parents feel offended and why some parents don’t. People that don’t work with special needs kids or don’t have any of their own are basically uninformed and don’t know what to say. They don’t know if a child is aware of what’s going on or not, they don’t know what a child can do, and a lot of them are just trying to be uplifting and encouraging. However, parents of special-needs children want their children to be seen as important, and just as good or normal as other children. Because, even there are differences, every child likes certain things. Every child likes certain foods. Every child has things that make them smile. I myself am an adult with Asperger Syndrome. And even though I seem normal for the most part and can do basically anything that a regular person can do, sometimes I need a little help and there are days when it’s an uphill struggle at best. What bothers me is when I share my condition with others and they tell me I look normal, or I don’t really have it, or worse, I am just pretending or attention-seeking.

  148. by christine

    On July 29, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I have read a lot of these posts and what I can’t figure out is what we can say to parents whose children have special needs. We know what you don’t like, and we know that ignoring the children is not acceptable. What do you want? I guess I can just ignore you all together and not even acknowledge your existance but I have a feeling that would upset you too. I am aware enough to not compare my child to anyone elses because everyone is special and every child is beautiful because they are life. So from the most genuine place in my heart how can I ask questions about your children’s conditions without offending you?

  149. by Melissa

    On July 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    This is very interesting. I have known individuals with disabilities my entire life and was raised to always treat everyone with respect and dignity. My father has aspergers so I’m always thinking to myself that you never know why someone does something others may not think is “normal.” And I totally agree with the remark that there is no such thing as “normal.”
    However, I’m feeling confused about one comment in particular is the “Your son/daughter looks so happy” I tell my friends all the time that they have such happy children. I thought it was a good thing when you have a happy child. I tell my sister that about my niece all the time – that she is just so happy. Why is that such a bad thing? I get that maybe, in the context, it seems like someone is saying your child is happy because they think your child shouldn’t be happy??? But maybe they are just like me and love seeing happy children – no matter who they are! I think it is a great reflection on parents when their children are happy. It is a good thing.

  150. by Melanie

    On August 1, 2011 at 9:49 am

    My granddaughter is legaly blind. You can’t tell she is blind until you watch her eyes. They don’t focus so the jutter back and forth. I don’t get mad at people when they ask questions about her. They don’t know when they first meet her that she is blind. I don’t understand you people when you get mad. Is everyone in the world supposed to know about everyones children being disabled when they meet them? It is not possible. If you feel compasion for your child then feel compasion for those that do not know about your child and let them ask. How else is anyone supposed to learn about them otherwise? A loving grandparent!

  151. by Beverly

    On August 2, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Hi everyone,
    I understand that people dont know what to say when they see my son. But no rude ness needed. I dont want pity for being a mom and I dont want people pitying my son he is perfect in Gods eyes and mine. The worst question I received was “what you do to him”. Im really timid and just look down trying to not let them see the tears in my eyes. But thank god my twin sister is not timid and she said ” she didnt do anything if you wanna know ask God he has the answer. From then on I try to not let anything get me down, lack of understanding,simpathy and intelligence isnt their fault either.

  152. by janice

    On August 4, 2011 at 9:42 am

    I’m the mother of a 6 year old daughter who has apraxia and asphasia from craniosynostosis. My all time favorites are… “Her hair will cover it” and “maybe she will out grow it”.

  153. by nelson

    On August 5, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Thank you for the informative article. Please don’t consider me to be the rube that I probably am. Many of us have the distinct privilege of working with the public. So, on top of doing everything I can to get to your level and earn your trust and business I make be taken back and say the wrong thing about your child. Trust me, if it doesn’t come out sounding right, I meant no harm to you or your family. Instead of being so fragile and militant you may wish to invite me into you circle. We all should do so much better having been more prepared to meet you in the future.

  154. by Nicola

    On August 6, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Some parents are offended by questions like these while others are offended by no reaction at all. As if we are insensitive to the child and parent either way. Often times it is simply that we aren’t sure what to say. We don’t want to offend, but not everyone is really articulate and comfortable in social situations of any kind. My question then is this: If I come across a situation like this, what IS acceptable? What are we expected to say or how are we expected to react? What would be less offensive to you as the parents of special needs children?

  155. by HappyChildfree

    On August 8, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Is there ANYTHING a person can say to you parents that you won’t take offense to? Do all of you harbor an all-encompassing passion for being offended? It’s not just parents of special needs kids. It’s nearly all parents today. I think I’ll just continue to do what I’ve always done, which is to avoid you entirely whenever possible.

  156. by Adrienne

    On August 8, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I’m sorry for offending. I don’t relate well to other people and I have trouble recognizing what’s acceptable in social situations. I also ha”ve difficult self-censoring even on the rare occasion when I DO know better. This has led, in the past, to such brilliant comments as “Wow, you must have sex a LOT!” to a women with 10 kids. When I say “I could never do what you do” I mean it quite literally… I’m only barely able to manage myself outside a group home.

    Please remember that your children may not be the only ones dealing with challenges. The conversation could go like this: “What’s wrong with him?” “Cerebral Palsy. That was rude, by the way. What’s wrong with YOU?” “Oh, there’s a list, I’m sorry for being rude.”

  157. by Bethaleg

    On August 10, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    While I do not have a special needs kid myself, I worked with special needs for three years. I took care of the absolute best girl also, and even named my first child after her. I just want to say that before I entered into the special ed world, I was CLUELESS! And I still don’t know what it’s like to be a parent of these children. That said, many people, like me, are simply ignorant of special needs because they have not been around them. While I have definitely encountered rude/snotty people, there are also those out there that just don’t know how to act/react to seeing special needs, especially out and about.
    I think it is normal for any parent to be sensitive about their child, and comments about their child. IE: My baby’s cousin was born three days before him and she crawls and he doesn’t. So of course I’m wondering “Why doesn’t he move?” And when ppl comment on how much she moves, it makes me want to defend my baby, such as: Oh, he is just so content to sit and watch. He’s such a good baby! So I do not think it is abnormal for parents to be sensitive about comments directed towards their children. Just try to put a positive spin on it, if possible. Laughter is truly the best medicine!
    I do have one comment that grates on me, and I used to say it all the time before my experience with special needs. It is “I don’t care what the baby is as long as its healthy.” And what? Are you going to send it back if it’s not???? But, like mentioned, ppl who use phrases like this just don’t understand, so cut them some slack, too!

  158. by A

    On August 12, 2011 at 8:51 am

    I don’t have any children myself, but I would like to say that I try to say the same thing to everyone with kids, and as much as you might hate to hear it, its the “I could never do what you do”. I don’t mean it “for” people whose children have disibilities, I mean if for people with kids! I don’t think I will ever have kids, just because I don’t think I have the patience for it, and while I realize that all parents need patience, I do think that parents with special needs children require more, just to deal with the other people who aren’t always stupid, just ignorant. And if I do ask questions about your child, I’m just curious. Kids are a blessing for most people, and everyone with children should be glad that they have them, some kids don’t survive childbirth, or very long afterwards. Heck, in my eyes you’re a saint just because you didnt terminate a pregnancy due to the gender of your child, which is happening so often nowadays.

  159. [...] Seven things not to say to parents of kids with special needs (Parents.com) [...]

  160. by Jen

    On August 12, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    This is just a quick (and not meant to be offensive) question for parents of special needs children: What is an ok thing to say/do? Whenever I encounter a parent with a child with special needs I try to be respectful and treat them the same as any other parent (because they are), but I’m also always worried that ignoring the elephant in the room is offensive as well. Is it better to continue to not bring this up or is there a respectful way to discuss the (to me at least) interesting differences that go with parenting a special needs child?

  161. by Ursula

    On August 12, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    “Well she must have a mild case” or “but she looks so cute” both said to my daughter with Down syndrome. Meant as compliments. Definitely aren’t.

  162. by lovemykids

    On August 14, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    To Tracy Asmussen

    Wow! Thanks for your post! I am a mom of three and my oldest has Asperger’s. He has had those grocery store meltdowns where someone has either glared and shook there heads or unbelievable suggested that he needs a good spanking. I wish I would have thought to approach the ordeal from the therapist chair. What a great idea. I hope we can all start to use this approach. It will surely empower us and hopefully cause others to see how they offend. Stand strong parents of special needs children. We truly are BLESSED!

  163. by ashley rowell

    On August 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Excellent article. I too have gotten all of these comments, and yeah, they perturb me too. People really need to stop and think about what they say and the implications what they say might have.

  164. by Molly

    On August 15, 2011 at 7:59 am

    To all of those defending to their death their right to use whatever word they damn well please:

    When I hear you say “that’s retarded” or “that’s gay”, that tells me all I need to know about your maturity, compassion and respect for others. Especially if you’re older than, say, fourteen.

  165. by Christine Barlow

    On August 15, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I am the mother of 25 year old twin daughters with Downs Syndrome.I would not give up one minute of the time I have spent with them. They are a great JOY !!!!!

  166. by Molly

    On August 15, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Ah, posted on the wrong thread, should have been on the movie one. Very sorry.

  167. by Beth

    On August 15, 2011 at 8:52 am

    As a sister of a very special needs brother, my favorite was always hearing people tell my parents… “You must be so special that you were chosen to have a special needs kid.” It always made me want to say, Wow! Aren’t you jealous that you’re not special enough?” Or “God will never give you more than you can handle.” I always wanted to say “clearly you weren’t up to the task.” Usually those comments were made by condescending folks. Now, if the comment was made in earnest, by someone who actually cared, I never felt like giving a sassy comment.

    I never had a problem when people asked about his condition if they did it in a respectful way. I was more than happy to talk about it. Everybody who met him loved him, the cheerleaders at his highschool (he was in special Ed.) volunteered and each weekend a pair of them would take him to lunch or a movie, or bowling etc- sadly, tomorrow is the 3rd anniversary of his passing :(

  168. by BOB

    On August 16, 2011 at 3:53 am

    I have 3 kids with special needs,1 with Down Syndrome and 2 with Autism and I have heard so many things from people over the years that have both amused and offended me. The one thing that strikes me the most is that people seem to go out of their way to commment on my kids.
    How often do you go up to a complete stranger with “normal” kids and feel compelled to comment on them? I know I usually dont.
    We as parents with kids with needs are not saints and our kids are not “Angels”.We are in most cases just getting by because our kids do demand more work from us. I thank the wellwishers and the uninformed,being uninformed is not a sin.What gets me are the know it all’s and the pointers and whisperes.what gets me about them is that at one point in my life I was one of them,until I had my kids.
    I have since become informed,I do not know it all and I don’t point or whisper.
    What I do do with other parents with kids with needs is say Hello like any other parent.

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  170. by AutismMum

    On September 2, 2011 at 7:06 am

    As a mother of two “typical” children and one autistic child I will be the first one to admit that my autistic child is hard work.

    God bless me? Yes, please. Am I a saint? Yes, at times I feel like I am. I must have it so hard? Darn straight, some times I do! And he does “look normal”, and he is “cute” when he tries to have a conversation, and it is nice to see him enjoying things that “normal” children enjoy because he doesn’t always.

    I have approached others to inform them that my son is autistic so that when they interact with him that they aren’t taken aback by his lack of social skills and I have usually found they then try a little more to connect with him. It’s a beautiful thing.

    I hope this article doesn’t frighten parents of “typical” children away from approaching those of us with special needs children because communication between us is a wonderful way to spread awareness and tolerance. Not a single comment that the autor has taken issue with would bother me. I see every one of them as an opportunity to open a dialog and educate which is never a bad thing!

    On the other hand, what is the best thing some one can say to me? Hands down the absolute best thing is; “Can I introduce your son to mine?”

  171. by Katrina Owen

    On September 8, 2011 at 9:21 am

    The one I hate is when it is directed toward my other two children ohh I’m so sorry that your baby brother has something wrong with him or it must be hard on your other kids. Having 2 so called normal kids and 1 special needs child is no differnt to our family as having 3 so called normal kids. Our son the other day stoped a lady in her tracks our youngest has Microcephaly and she looked in his carseat and then went OHH what happened to him and my son who is a laugh riot answered he does that to make stupid people ask questions. Like our 4 month old is a magcian.

  172. by Ellie

    On September 14, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I stumbled across your blog and this is the first article I’ve read — found it very interesting. Although my daughter does not have physical disabilities, she has many learning and processing disabilities and it’s been a long haul in finding the right diagnoses and school. When I told my brother what she was struggling with, his comment was: “But she seems so bright! And she looks totally normal!” I tried to hold my frustration in check because I know this kind of response comes from ignorance, and I explained that my daughter IS bright. What is normal, anyway? The way I see it, all kids and all people have something to deal with in their lives that can be less than ideal — a difficult family situation, a physical disability, a mental health issue, a learning disability, whatever. We all manage as best we can and grow and learn in the process. It’s important for people to get that whatever disability our kids live with, that disability does not define him or her as a person; it is just a part of the person. Thank you for having this discussion!

  173. by Amber

    On September 18, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I find this to be a very interesting forum. My daughter, who is 2 years old, has SEVERE eczema, severe asthma, and severe food allergies. Nothing compared to the ladies on here;however, due to the eczema, her skin always looks very red, cracked open and dried out. We have been through every medication that they can offer for her due to her age and weight. People are forever asking me, “whats wrong with her skin” and ” is she contagious?”. Really people?! Do you think I would take my child out to play if she was sick and contagious? As a medical student, I really like that you ladies are putting your true feelings on how you feel when other people ask about your child’s “condition”. It really gives insight to how it not only makes a parent feel, but, to think of how that poor child feels about your question. My 2 year old cried when someone said that her skin looked awful. People sometimes think that children don’t understand what is being said but let me assure you, they do. I am currently 35 weeks pregnant with another girl, who might I add has a 80% chance of having the same issues, so yay for me, I get to hear it double now :-)
    I wish all of you ladies and your families good luck as well as health in the upcoming years. Some people are just ignorant and need to be ignored. This is what I have learned since I had my daughter.

  174. by DanaA

    On October 12, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Wow it seems like parents of special needs kids are getting a tad over-sensitive. So many have posted example after example of things people say that are annoying (many of which, I might add, are things I’d say to any parent), and yet hardly anyone has actually answered the commenters who have asked what is ok to say.
    I see how some comments can sound truly insensitive. Things along the lines of ‘Oh wow your life must suck’ etc. But seriously…
    I’m not allowed to say that your child is cute?
    I can’t comment that you must be busy/have your hands full? Because last I checked most mums are. And this is something I’d say to any parents of young children. And what exactly is so terrible about remarking that your kid looks happy or is enjoying their ice cream? This is surely a genuine comment many people would make when they see a cheerful kid. Is a child with special needs any different then? ‘I don’t know how you do it?’ Well that’s true, I honestly don’t. Because I am not in your shoes and I truly admire you for how you have raised your child. It is a compliment. Accept it and don’t be so snarky about everything.
    Parents of children with special needs need to start seeing that majority of people out there are just trying to be nice/friendly/conversational and stop reading so much into things others say. If you want people to see your child the way they see every other child then realise that as a parent you are no different from other parents, and people are going to say these things to you.

  175. by Miriam

    On October 21, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Well my son has mild autism, moderate ADHD and possibly dyslexia, we are not sure as he is finally learning to read. He is lucky to have gotten a good start in life. Anyway my daughter has mild ADHD and dyslexia. I have to say I honestly did not see those questions asked by other moms who knew nothing about raising a child with special needs as offensive by any means, especially if it came from well meaning people who really did not know much. Well… I will be perfectly frank. Both of my kids may have special needs and yes it has taught me a lot, but at the same time I am also clueless about other conditions that other kids may have and could unintentionally say something that would come off as insensitive too. I mean.. like Les said, people say things because they really have no idea what else to say and even if they were to read up on kids with special needs, the term varies so much and means different things. I mean YEAH,some questions that ignorant and nasty people make are another story. Oh well this is precious. I have a mild form of Asperger’s or something along those lines myself and back in junior high and high school I was picked on endlessly because I had no social skills and the things I did that was fun for me was weird to them. My son does the exact same thing and I hope he has the advantage of learning that a lot sooner than I did. So I had one very bad bully… and all of a sudden 20 years later on Facebook yet she sent me a nasty email saying (she somehow found out my son is autistic) “Well the government would be less drained if freaks like you did not reproduce more freaks” and that just… did it for me. It was one of those moments where I had to count to 10 to calm down. Then I calmly wrote back and warned her if she contacted me again, I would contact the authorities and have her IP traced. Never heard from her again (bullies don’t change for the most part as that alone is evidence of that). Ironically I found out that her sister in living on welfare (she is a welfare bum and those I cannot stand) and her good friend who also was a bully to me is in jail. So… who is putting a drain on the government???? And when people ask if he will leave a normal life, they mean independent and functioning. I was terrified of that but now, not so much because he will be at worst 70% functional. There are great places for people who have disabilities to live an independent life, that require some help from social workers as the term for this community is “Independent Living”. And getting on the list now as my son is 7, because the wait can be a while. My hairdresser has a friend whose 18 year old is autistic and lives in one of those communities, and he works at a factory and has a girlfriend and he is happy there. Can’t ask for more than that. And hey… who is to say that NT kids will turn out fine?? A lot of them end up having bad lives and they struggle in other ways. And then you have exceptional people with disabiities who have done amazingly well like Chris Burke, Temple Grandin, lots of actors, artists and writers have had either autism, ADHD, dyslexia.. etc. The key here is if anyone is motivated to do well… they do.

  176. by nicole

    On October 21, 2011 at 6:53 am

    My most unfavorite is when you ask me about his disability, and I tell you and then you tell me how well your kid is doing aka walking so early rtalking etc.

  177. by Angela LaRoche

    On October 26, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    I also used to hate the “you sure have your hands full” …until I started saying “Better full than empty”…especially to someone without children.

    I admit it…passive aggressive at its best.

  178. by Emily Morrison

    On October 26, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    I think I got more out of reading all the comments. It’s nice to know there are other parents out there dealing with all this too. I would much rather people approach me and ask questions about my daughters condition. I feel we need to educate all we can, young and old. My family is very fortunate to live in a community that has embraced my daughter with open arms. People say these things because they are trying to be supportive. They don’t know how to respond, I think it’s human nature to sympathize.

  179. by Leila

    On November 5, 2011 at 11:10 am

    First of all, as a parent of an extremely premature baby, I can agree that some comments sting more than others. With that said, sometimes I think it’s easy for some of us to be be offended or taken aback when ppl say certain things to us. But it is my belief that they are being genuine and they really don’t know/understand what we’ve endured/continue to endure. I think that a lot of you are overly sensitive. Yes, overly sensitive. No one knows YOUR story better than you so don’t expect other ppl to just walk up to you and engage in an intellectual discussion about your child’s health issues. Get over it. And someone said that it blows them away that ppl don’t know about special needs children. Does it really? Before my child was born, I didn’t know what went into caring for a special needs child. Sure, I see them around, I’ve even participated in the Special Olympics as a volunteer. But once my husband and I were told that our child could possibly be a special needs child (forgive me, the exact term escaped my memory) we immediately began to do our research so that we’d know how to go about preparing and caring for a child with severe disabilities. You all should try and relax and not jump down ppl’s throats for every little question they ask you. And let’s be honest, most of those questions and comments are the same questions and comments that ALL parents have heard. Don’t mean to be rude, but get over yourselves. It isn’t all about you and your child.

  180. by Leila

    On November 5, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Some of you sound really bitter. Just an observation.

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  183. by Melanie

    On November 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Phew, lots of bitterness, resentment and anger here in the comments. How sad. Makes me grateful to know the wonderful people I know with special-needs children who don’t get caught up in all of that, and are able and willing to discuss their child’s conditions without getting angry that people have questions or say things that come across as insensitive, but are really intended to be complimentary or reassuring or just an awkward expression of admiration.

    Yes, it’s hard to raise a special-needs child. Yes, people make comments that could be insensitive, but most of them mean well and just don’t know how to word things in a manner that is palatable to each individual person. Thicken your skin and accept the comments for what they generally are – well-meaning.

    Just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean we don’t care or think that your child is important.

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  186. by Kara

    On December 16, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    My son is High-functioning Autistic he just turned 9 and the comments I have heard that I hate worse are

    1. “can my child catch what your kid has?”
    a. “NO!! just like I can’t catch your stupidity”

    2. “if you spanked him he would not flap his arms like that or spin around like he has no since”
    a. “What is there to spank him for he is just doing what feels good to him besides I would rather him look silly and feel good then have a total meltdown right here in the store”

    3. “what on earth is wrong with him”
    a. “Nothing he is perfect but in light of your rudeness I will ask you What is wrong with you didn’t your mother teach you manners.”

    4. (said in a baby voice) “Awwww is he potty trained or dose he still use pampers”
    a.(said by my 9 year old son just 2 days ago) “awwww look mommy the old person can’t tell if I am 2 or 9 or 30 how sweet” ” do you need us to call you nursing home and let them know you are scared and hungry and in need of a new adult pamper?” (yes I told him he can not talk to adults like that but how do ya ground a kid when you were laughing so hard you bout peed your pants?)

    My all time most hated is……..

    “Omg did you know he was going to be (Insert the r word) and if you did why on earth didn’t you abort him and save yourself a lot of trouble.” (this was just said to me today)

    A. OMG did your parents know that you were going to be such a rude (insert as many dirty names you can think of) why on earth didn’t your mother swallow? I hope you do not have children in fact I hope you are unable to have kids please do not infect our gen pool any further. As for my child he is Perfect and you can Kiss my A** now F*%@ you and have a nice day :)

    Now I am not over sensitive with my son I feel if you have an honest question about him you should ask I would rather tell you about Autism then have you Ignorant to the subject, BUT if you are going to act stupid I am more then willing to treat you like the rude jerk you are acting like :)

  187. by Jody

    On December 22, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    My 5 year old has CP. I personally don’t find the “you have your hands full” or “your great with him” offensive at all. I actually takes these as a positive as they were meant.

    There are however things that people say that really upset me, ESPECIALLY when they say it to or in front of my child. “What’s wrong with him?”–a waitress continued to ask me this at a restaurant even after i replied “nothing”…my 4yr old son cried when he got to the car. When my son was younger–I can’t count the number of times people told me to put my son down when i was fanagling to pay at a cash register or carry him plus other things—sorry but i can’t put him down as he can’t stand/walk on his own. Now my son walks with forearm crutches (so proud and thankful for this!) and a little old lady saw him walking by and said to him “hey there hobble-along”…REaALLY? Nothing like making fun of his disablity lady!! I wouldn’t be surprised (or nearly as upset) if a child said this joking but a strange adult says it to a 5year old with forearm crutches??!!!

    I understand that people are uncomfortable and don’t know how to react but just think first.

  188. by Jennifer Busick

    On January 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    My least favorite is “God gives special children to special parents.” That one just makes me angry.

    I think that often if people would give ten seconds’ thought to what’s about to come out of their mouths, they would realize how offensive it is.

    As for the commenters who think that parents of special-needs children are too sensitive and need to get over it: you are incorrect. It is not “hypersensitive” to identify rude behavior and request more thoughtful, civil speech and behavior instead. It is no different for me to expect people to think about what they say and speak politely to me and to my disabled child than it is for me to expect the guy at the football game to watch his language around my minor daughters. He apologized and stopped shouting “chickens—!” at the referees from four feet behind our heads. Why when it’s a disabled kid do people have a problem with being asked not to be rude, crude, and socially unacceptable?

  189. by Shannon aka Ms Wheelchair Alabama 2011

    On January 7, 2012 at 11:28 am

    As Ms Wheelchair Alabama, my platform is to break the barriers of social misconceptions and social awkwardness. I do not feel these things are wrong to be say, however, they can be put in a nicer way. The reason people say things that come across rude to us is because they are not educated. Instead of getting ill at the person asking things, answer them with an educational response. For example, “What is wrong with your son?” Answer saying, “Nothing is wrong with him, he has a disability called (insert disability).” If they are not familiar with it then explain. Also, when people tell me I’m “so cute” I say thank you mam and watch their jaw drop at how smart I am compared to what they thought. What I’m trying to get at is make things positive instead of dwelling on it the rest of the day!

  190. by Hannah

    On January 18, 2012 at 11:02 am

    So, I read through more than half of the comments on this article. I understand many of you with special needs children are using this as an outlet. However, people who don’t have kids with special needs are trying to use it as a way to educate themselves. After reading this and most of the comments I am more confused. You all say you want to be treated like anyone else, well a lot of these comments are normal or “average” comments. Think about your life before you knew your child had special needs. I’m pretty sure you asked the doctor or yourself “What’s wrong with my child”. I ask myself that almost daily, and my kids don’t have special needs. The same way you all are asking us to be more sensitive to you all with kids with special needs, I ask that you be more sensitive to those of us wanting to know more about your child. I have never asked a parent “what’s wrong with him/her?” but it has gone through my mind, so how do we ask? I’m not looking for answers like “just smile and wait for us to tell you” because that’s not how I treat other parents. I ask questions to parents about their child, because I want to know more about them. What is the appropriate way to find out what your child special need is?

  191. by zk

    On February 3, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Most comments don’t bug me & my parents never indicated to me if “normal” comments were bugging them, BUT the one comment that got me & my mom really riled up even with allowing that it came from someone who didn’t understand severe TBI. was “well, I guess she[me] is not a failure anymore!” HUH???!! when mom told this person that I had just gotten my certs {7yrs to get thru HS & 7yrs more to get my certs} I didn’t think I was a failure because after the TBI noone would have thought I’d get so far! :)

  192. [...] What to say to parents of kids with autism (Parents.com) [...]

  193. by emma

    On March 7, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Several people have said ‘your lucky your husband has stayed with you’ that drives me mad, we have 2 children 1 typical, and the youngest is extra special they are both his children and now he is a hero for not legging it at the first sign of not meeting the milestones!! Also, ‘I couldnt do what you do’ is very annoying im going to do what Tracey above recommended and turn it around and ask them how they would have dealt with it then’.

  194. by Debbie

    On March 11, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I have 4 children between 2 and 8 years old. My 8-year old has AS and my 2-year old could wear out the Juggernaut. I good friend gave me the perfect response for the “Boy, you’ve got YOUR hands full” comment.

    “Better full than empty.”

    I use it every time. And mean it.

  195. by A little annoyed

    On March 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    How about an article that tells you what you should say? After reading several of these I feel like saying NOTHING. How’s that?

  196. by Lori

    On March 15, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I don’t usually get offended when people “feel bad” for us. In fact, it is nice to have people be supportive of the extra struggles we go through having children with special needs. The few however that DO upset me; People (who are NOT doctors or medical professionals) that suggest I medicate my child to help with behaviors, people who say my child “just needs more discipline” (because she has Asperger’s and “appears normal”), and we have a 2 year old and people always ask “is she alright” and “aren’t you afraid she will have it too”.

  197. by Brandy

    On March 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Great article. Some of the things I must admit I say to parents with any child. My neighbor has 6 kids. I’ve said you must have your hands full to her because she must…
    Asking if you are having more kids or saying how happy your child looks doesn’t seem bad to me. People talk about what they have common. If I am at the park with my kids I will try to make conversation abou tour kids.
    I think there is a difference between ignorance and just asking a question. A lot of these statements get said to parents with kids who do and don’t have disabilities.
    I will definitely be more aware of what I say now after reading how it can offend so many.

  198. by char

    On March 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    My stepson is disabled, the thing that I hated was how everybody treated him like he was a baby and couldn’t do anything. He has spinal biffda and wears braces to help him walk, yet his mom would make him ride in the cart or wheel chair when he was nine. We always treated him normal. Not babying him.

  199. by Janie

    On March 31, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Okie dokie then…No one can say the word retarded, ask how anyone with a disabled kid is doing, state they look like they’ve got their hands full (something said to parents of ‘norms’ too you know), state that they admire your strength (by saying they couldn’t do what you do), ask what’s wrong with your kid (a natural question about a condition they’re curious about), ask if your kid’s contagious (a natural worry these days where contagious diseases are rampant) or even ask if you have other children (because nobody EVER asks ‘normal’ parents that one either)

    So basically, due to the chip on the shoulder of some of you ‘special needs’ parents (not talking about the kids here just the oddities of the parents) nobody should EVER speak to ANY parent of a disabled kid or the kid themselves. It is MUCH better if you avoid these parents and kids with at least a 20 foot radius, studiously ignore them whenever you’re in close proximity to them so as not to offend by your words or actions…oh hell! Let’s completely alienate the ‘special needs’ community so as not to disturb the chip on the shoulder. Jeez….and you wonder why nobody wants to treat you normally – YOU WON’T LET THEM!

  200. by Kathryn

    On April 7, 2012 at 4:43 am

    Wow your grades are good!
    What did your parents do to you?You look like you could have turned out normal
    Are you going to college?(yes i am)
    and the one my mom always heard when i was younger and still hears today
    You say they are twins right?then how is one (walking slower,having a harder time writing her name,have worse speech,have no strengh)
    I am a teenager with a 20% hearing loss and devolpmental delays

  201. by Not Supermom

    On April 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    “Will it kill him?”

    Well, we don’t effing know, and would prefer not to find out, thanks.

  202. by Aubrey

    On April 10, 2012 at 10:38 am

    I don’t think that the comment “Looks like you have your hands full” is wrong. I am not a parent to a special needs child, but I have said that to parents before in reference to children that are not special needs. I have worked with special needs adults and I have some understanding of the situation. God bless you all because there are many people out there that just don’t think. I guess that I would be one of them. Thank you for making us all more informed.

  203. by Anna

    On April 17, 2012 at 11:07 am

    While I understand that there are many pet peeve sayings and many rude people, perhaps it would help to take a deep breath and stop to think that maybe the person in front of you truly intends to offer compassion or grace to you in some way but does not know exactly how to do that. That makes them guilty of an attempt at kindness while suffering from ignorance. They do not necessarily mean to be insensitive or thoughtless, and some of the pet peeve comments could be taken more than one way.

    As a constructive alternative, how about posting the sort of comments that would help parents of special needs kids feel supported? Many people DO want to express support, approval, and encouragement but do not know what would be acceptable to the parents.

    With every list of what ticks SN parents off, the likelihood of support being offered dwindles since no one likes to offer grace and wind up hurting someone instead or even getting it thrown back in their face as if it had been an intentional insult. And that is not good for anyone!

  204. by Gentzane

    On April 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    We loathe, “they just need discipline, they’re doing it on purpose, or they are just difficult children, they’ve learned they could get away with it,etc.”

  205. by Laura

    On May 8, 2012 at 12:06 am

    DON’T use my child’s medical conditions to call attention to yourself!

    My now ex best friends got pregnant, referred to me as a failure, because I couldn’t. Then 2 months later, told me she was having a blue baby, which refers to a condition my son has. She then told me “Not your kind of blue! Mine is a boy, the healthy wiggly kind!”

  206. by Daisy

    On May 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I despise “ohhh, all kids do that!!” ..Grrrr..
    My daughter has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, the “Invisible Disability” they call it and it definitely is…
    Trying to explain to her teachers that one day she will know the answer and then the next time may not due to the damaged pathways in her brain is like talking to a brick wall.. they think she is just being naughty and not answering… sigh…
    I have had the judgemental comments as i am dealing with a sensory meltdown overload.. “what disgusting behaivour” etc..
    Oh and the best comment of all time ” that is not FASD, that is your parenting, you have taught her to be bad”… !!!!!!!!!!!!! my daughter is NOT bad, she is a wonderful, loving, amazing little girl who i adore.. she does the best she can with what she has and i for one am the proudest mummy i could possibly ever be!!!

  207. by Catalina

    On May 17, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    I have a normal 14 year old adopted grandson with downs syndrom. He has all the wants and needs of any other 14 year old and expresses it as best he can, but he gets his point across. I know several people with special needs children. One has adopted three and she is always talking about all the medical care she provides for them ad nauseum, but dont dare ask why or anything about their disabilities,she then tells you she doesnt talk about that. The little boys are normal little boys with their own set of needs and mom seems to thrive on them. The kids are well cared for but she is a bore.

  208. by Rosabelle

    On May 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I just love all the bullying on here from people who have not experienced any of this. Today I has a stranger stare for a good five minutes before asking what was wrong with her. My son has developmental delays among other issues not discearnable by looking at him.
    i said what do you mean? My son is fine.
    SheSaid wl there is obviously something wrong with him. I said wl he has developmental delays, and you’ll have ro forgive me for not responding very wl to a perfect stranger questioning me about my child. It’s very hard for me. Have a good day.
    a I continued to walk through the store, I had years ruling down my cheek and could del the redness of my cheeks. I know she provably didn’t mean anything by it. Th
    at did not stop the comment from hurting. Do you think I want my child to feel like he is less than others? He’s right there, just because he can’t say anything to you, doesn’t mean he can’t hear you. Should I telL MY 3 year old that he is different than everyone else when he is happy, actively accelling at therapy, and has never been made to feel bad about himself in asn’t way? What about my so called normal six year old who was standing there along what she meant and that thats his brother? Should he be made to feel bad for being out with his disabled brother? We’ve taught him his brother is wonderful and that we just need to help him more and that none of it is anyones fault.

  209. by Esmeralda Suttie

    On August 20, 2012 at 1:06 am

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  210. by Alice

    On September 7, 2012 at 12:26 am

    This article and the following comments have upset me more than anything I’ve read in a long time. I have several mental health issues: ADHD, OCD, Avoidant Personality Disorder, Major Depression, and some severe anxiety issues. I’ve been surrounded by relatives with Schizophrenia, and other mental health issues my whole life. I have a four year old with severe ADHD (to the point where it’s caused significant delays), OCD, and some sensory issues and an almost three year old that isn’t talking yet. I have never been able to understand social norms or form friendships and this article makes me wonder why I even try. It’s too hard. It doesn’t make ANY sense. Many of these comments I overhear other parents with all types of children say to each other all the time. But apparently some type of research has to be done on the background of each potential conversational partner to determine if it’s appropriate to say them or not. It reminds me of back before I ever had kids, I used to always talk about how small and cute babies were because I didn’t know anything else about babies and that seemed like a safe thing to say. After I had a baby, I then got to hear all the other parents rant about how awful people are that call their babies small, with remarks like, “he’s average for a two month old” and so on. I think most people that talk about how small a baby is mean that in relation to an adult, and honestly can’t tell if the baby is two months or two years old. It’s not like people without kids carry growth charts.

    As far as I can tell everyone is going to be individually irritated about something no matter what. And unless I develop psychic abilities I am doomed to never understand human social behavior. I’m thirty-one years old, married to the only other person as clueless as me, and trying my best, with every resource I can find, to help my sons develop to the best of their abilities. But every trip to play therapy, or the pediatricians, etc. I wish I didn’t have to interact with other parents (this is prior to this article, although it’s not helping me change my mind). I make my self ill with dread each day I have to take my son to school. Every social interaction feels like a test where everyone has a study guide but me. This article just makes me want to be a hermit (honestly, I’ve always wanted to be a hermit, but it’s hard to pull off, especially for females).

    I apologize for ranting so emotionally on an old post. I know this kind of thing isn’t designed for people like me, but it’s just so hard to read things like this and not cry.

    I really don’t understand why parents continue to talk to each other when they upset each other so much. It would be so much more peaceful if everyone was allowed to just stay home. =[

  211. by Sue

    On October 30, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    I have a brother with down syndrome. Usually when people find out, there is a typical script. It becomes like an interview, with every question centered around my brother’s disability. That is why I rarely mention it to people anymore.
    Does he live at home?
    How old is he?
    Does he work?
    Is he a burden?
    Down syndrome kids are so happy. Don’t you think so?
    What’s wrong with him?
    Did your parents know before they had him?
    Is it genetic?
    Would they have considered, ahem, not having him?

    Yes, by the time you get done talking to them, you are overwhelmed by the simplicity of their understanding, by their stereotypical thinking (all down syndrome kids are happy), and by some of the rude questions. Best of all, you even get comments like, “My sister’s stepsister’s third cousin has down syndrome, so I know exactly what it’s like.” I wish people would stop asking some of these questions. I don’t think they have any idea how insulting and rude they are. So I don’t take it personally. But I am incredibly proud and grateful for my brother, and I refused to let one woman call him a “burden.” I have also realized that many of the people asking these questions have a very close connection. They might have a sibling with down syndrome who they never knew, or a close relative. Sometimes it is a deep dark family secret – and that is why they are so interested. But it would be more meaningful if they just admitted why they are so interested in the topic.

  212. by Cassie Freese

    On February 5, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Emileigh has a brain malformation called Polymicrogyria. And when we explain it to people they ask ‘does she look like you’ or ‘does she look normal?’ Seriously she is a baby! She looks like a little human, okay?!

    I cannot stand when people compare their typical, healthy kids to her. Goodness! Nothing more insulting than spending a year on the couch, 60 days in the hospital, your baby screaming and back arching, vomiting and pooping profusely, having surgeries, scopes and a feeding tube to have some ding-dong say they know how I feel or their kid was just like that.

    And then there is the killer… “what DOES she do?’ Umm.. what do you mean by that? She does her best everyday like everyone else.

  213. by F.Vil

    On April 12, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    I’m a little surprised at the amount of snide, sarcastic and rude comments made about people who say things with obvious good intentions but lack of knowledge on the subject. I realize that people sometimes say the wrong thing but can you blame them. According to all the blogs I’ve read…it seems no one can say anything right. If they pretend there’s nothing different with your child, you say they’re ignoring the obvious yet when they bring it up, you say they shouldn’t make distinctions. That would make anyone nervous about even approaching you or your children. As much as you realize your child’s strengths and limitations, find it in your heart to see other’s as well.

  214. by Miniclip

    On May 6, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    I used to keep them too, wanting to use them in a design or something. I saved the ones with the date on it. I especially kept the ones with dates as 10:10:10. Unfortunately my husband threw them out, unaware of my collection… Gonna start all over again now that I’ve seen this. Thanks!

  215. by friv

    On May 6, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    In the year 2910, when someone visits this site (which will then be part of the national archive), will they wonder what bread bag ties are?

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