There are moments and situations in life where many people struggle with knowing what to say or how to respond. For people who haven’t lived with or are unfamiliar with a child with special needs, it’s sometimes hard to know what to say. Often, things might be said with the best of intentions, but totally come out wrong or are unintentionally offensive or hurtful.
That’s where this article comes in, because we’re here to help. Here are 10 comments that parents of special needs kids say are hurtful to them, so make a mental note and steer clear of saying them.
1. “Does he talk yet?”
Try this instead: “How are you? Tell me about the wonderful things that your child has been doing lately?”
2. “It’s just a phase! You’re overreacting.”
Try this instead: “You seem to have a lot of concerns. If you want to talk about it, I’m ready to listen.”
3. “I’m glad you’re finally doing something about your child.”
Try this instead: “I can see that you’re working hard to do what’s best for your child. It’s been difficult for me to observe everything that’s happened, but I’m here for you.”
4. “She looks normal to me. She just needs a little help with _____.”
Try this instead: “What type of support does your child need?”
5. “Did you read the Newsweek article/see the story on the news about ____?”
Try this instead: “I want to learn more about _____. Could you recommend some reliable sources of information?”
6. “Maybe if you didn’t _____, then he wouldn’t _____.”
Try this instead: “What can I do to alleviate some of the stress?” You could also offer to do something specific for the family to give the parents a break.
7. “Why are you so sensitive about this? I’m only trying to help.”
Try this instead: “I love you and I love your family. What can I do to help?”
8. “Can’t you just ____?”
Try this instead: “I guess there are no easy answers in this situation, but you’ll always have my love and support.”
9. Silence – no phone calls, e-mails, birthday cards, or holiday visits.
Try this instead: “Pick up the phone and say, ‘How are you? I was just thinking about you today.”
10. “Haven’t you tried ___?”
Try this instead: “I keep hearing about new therapies. Is there something I can research for you?”
The bottom line is you should try to put yourself in their shoes. And whatever you do, don’t stop talking because you’re worried and aren’t sure what to say.
h/t: Friendship Circle