Seeing Special Needs Kids from the Outside

Special needs can be an insular world.  Every day, I’m taking care of Jack or playing with him.  Or I’m talking to professionals and other parents about our kids. Or I’m planning best strategies or curriculum or outings.

But every once in a while, I get a message from the Outside.

Kario over at The Writing Life talked about seeing the special needs world from the outside.  She read some essays written by special needs’ parents.  And she wrote about her reactions to special needs’ kids.  Go over here to read it.  She won’t bite.  Promise.

Kario described her reactions to seeing special needs kids as frustration (that she couldn’t help) and fear (that she would have a special needs kid.)

I like that she’s honest.

Before I had Jack, pre-Jack me could have had this conversation with now-me.

Pre-Jack Me: You have a child with autism? Oh, I’m so sorry.

Me: By sorry, do you mean you feel sorry for me for having a child that’s special needs?  Then don’t feel sorry for me.  Jack has enriched my life more than I can imagine.  He’s the best kid ever!  I wouldn’t trade him for the world!  But if you mean you feel sorry that my child has challenges, then, yes, I know.  I wish my child didn’t have as many challenges either.  He uses up all his energy just using his eyes or his hands.  Things we take for granted, like eating or talking to people, are really hard for him.  But he is the cutest and happiest kid.

Pre-Jack Me: 
He sounds adorable.  I like your shoes.

Me:
Oh, thanks!  You should see the red peeptoe pumps I saw last week!
But I have the feeling that other people outside the special needs world may have stronger reactions.  Like anger.  Why are you letting your child act like that?  Why can’t you control your child?  Why don’t you teach him better how to act in public?

And embarassment.  I realize your child is different.  I’m thinking he might have special needs.  But his flapping and noises are embarrassing.  I would like to avoid your child and I feel bad about that.

Reaction like curiousity.  What does your child have?  Why does he do those things?

I would like to invite you to a conversation.

If you are a parent of a typical kid, would you mind honestly, even anonymously, leaving me a comment below about your reactions to special needs kids?

And if you are a parent of special needs kid, would you mind honestly, even anonymously, sharing what you would want people to know about being a special needs parent?  Or about special needs kids?  Or your child?

Kario extended her hand across the aisle first.  Who wants to go next?  You, in the back, with the cute shoes?

Photo credit: http://www.weddingdates.ie/blog/tag/message-in-a-bottle/

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Brenda Rothman
Brenda Rothman is a writer, speaker, and consultant who advises parents and professionals about the power of relationship. After leaving law, Brenda devoted her energy to the relationship with her son, diagnosed with autism. Her essays are at mamabegood.blogspot.com, The Huffington Post, The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism, Mamapedia, and PLoS. She has been interviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Parent magazine, and BlogHer. - See more at: http://mamabegood.blogspot.com
Brenda Rothman

Brenda Rothman

Brenda Rothman is a writer, speaker, and consultant who advises parents and professionals about the power of relationship. After leaving law, Brenda devoted her energy to the relationship with her son, diagnosed with autism. Her essays are at mamabegood.blogspot.com, The Huffington Post, The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism, Mamapedia, and PLoS. She has been interviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Parent magazine, and BlogHer. - See more at: http://mamabegood.blogspot.com

0 thoughts on “Seeing Special Needs Kids from the Outside

  • January 30, 2012 at 3:43 am
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  • September 7, 2011 at 10:29 pm
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    My (soon to be) 3 year old is special needs, and his younger brother, who is 18 months is looking to be that way too. When I have both of them in ‘meltdown’ mode in the store, I can’t help but see the looks that people give, and the ‘off-hand’ comments that they make. NO, they’re not having a tantrum because they’re not getting a toy. NO, I can’t just take them out of the store. I’m a single mom with only so much errand time and NO, I’m not a horrible parent thats just letting my kids freak out while I shop. I just wish that people would stop labeling my kids as ‘spoiled’ and ‘bratty’ because they look ‘normal’.

    Reply
  • August 12, 2011 at 12:17 pm
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    you didn’t invite me, but i was a special needs child, and I look normal and I act fairly normal.  Most children were understanding that I didn’t want to play wth them and left me alone.  It was teachers that I had a hard time with. 

    I watched other people get made fun of for how they looked or acted because it was obvious.  Most people will taunt until they realize the child is special.  Then they will pretend like the person doesn’t exist.

    I would make random comments to the air, like, “wow your autism is really showing up today.”  Then other people will be like, oh.  You will be ignored, which will allow your child to keep flapping, screaming, taunting, etc.

    Reply

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