If you don’t have a child with special needs you may wonder how to treat them, how to act around them, what to say and what not to say..
There’s thousands of children with additional needs, each so different too, even if a child has the same diagnosis as another, there really is no 2 the same. So when asking the question, “how to treat a child with special needs” you may think the answer will be a difficult one as no 2 disabilities are the same.
But it’s simple. It really is.
Watch their sibling. Just sit back and watch and you’ll have your answer.
What do you see? Do you see them acting any different as to how they would act around another child with no additional needs?
The quick answer is no. They don’t treat them any different, and that’s your answer right there. If you’re teaching your children about disabilities please don’t tell them they need to be any different around people that have them!
I have 2 children, my oldest, Ava, has no disabilities and my youngest, Wilson, has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, there is just a year between them and they are the best of friends. Ava treats her younger brother no different from how she treats her friends. She is aware there is a lot of things he is unable to do but that doesn’t stop her playing with him the way she would if he didn’t have any disabilities! The only thing a bit different is that she will sometimes have to shout over to me “Mum! Wheel him over this way now please, we are going to play something else!”
I’m sometimes even guilty of thinking “oh, he can’t do that so we will play something else” if we are playing with something I think he won’t be able to do but his big sister never, ever doubts his abilities and she’ll just help him if he needs it, or leave him to it and let him figure it out! I genuinely don’t think he would be able to do a lot of what he can do now if it wasn’t for her, she has taught him so much without even realising it herself!
In fact, you may have seen from our social media posts that she even won an award for this! We attended the children of courage awards and Ava won the “special sibling” award and I can’t think of anyone more deserving. She truly is amazing.
So when I meet another child with disabilities, no matter what they are, I don’t treat them any different than how I would if I was meeting any other child and I know my children wouldn’t either. It’s important to let them ask questions too. I had an experience once where I overheard a child ask his mum “why is that boy in a pram he’s not a baby?” And the mum told her son off and very quickly walked away from us. It upset me because it’s then teaching that boy not to speak with anyone that’s a bit different (that’s how I seen it at the time anyway!) whereas, if she said to him “why don’t you go ask!” Then I would have been more than happy to answer any questions and I know my son would have loved to said hello!
Don’t shy away from disabilities and don’t be afraid to ask questions. We are ALL different but we should ALL be treated the same.