How to Behave With Special Children And Special Parents
Almost all of the articles I write are to serve special parents. It is for their education, and attempt to inspire them and help them go through their negative emotions.
I believe when one is done with their process of grieving and despair, then they are prepared for a happier chapter in their life full of optimism, happens, and joy. But it is a process, which means it takes time.
I decided to give my perspective in this article to everyone who doesn’t deal with this kind of challenge in their family. If you want to learn how to behave around special children and special parents, and most importantly, if you want to educate your children how to do that as well, then this is an article for you,
Two things inspired me to write this.
The first trigger was an incident I’ve heard about. An autistic girl was playing at the playground, minding her own business at the swings. Some other girls her age came and tried to talk to her. When they got no answer, they figured out that the girl is autistic, and (I was so shocked reading this) they started to bully her, push her, and call her “retarded”. By the time the mother intervened, the girl was shaking, crying, and was very scared. That is a trauma that she will carry with her. And no, doesn’t help at all that the other parents on the playground tried to apologize. They should go see when the mother was putting the girl to bed that night to see how their “I’m sorry” helped.
The second thing was a talk I had with a friend. She admitted to me that when they are in the park or at the beach with her children, she doesn’t know how to react or how to educate her children when there are special children around. She said: “Please tell me what to say to my children when they ask me why that kid in a wheelchair is? I don’t want to say that the child is sick or handicap, and I don’t know what to say at all.”
Children are empty books, and it is your responsibility as parents what you’ll put there. Children are watching you. It is scientifically proven that until the age of 7, they are downloading consciously and unconsciously everything they see, heard, and experience. Everything.
It is proven that since the age of two, a child has a perfectly clear understanding of how their father is treating them, how that same father treats other children in the neighborhood, and how is their father behaving around grownups, in and outside the family. You can find articles about this; I am not getting into details now. I just use it as a fact.
The child doesn’t do that consciously like: Aha, my daddy, is warm and nice to me, and he is more reserved with other children, and he is more serious when he talks to his friends…- no, the child doesn’t think like that. It’s getting it on an intuitive level all that, and that is how it shapes its personality.
I know that you don’t sit with your children and say to them: Whenever you see an autistic kid or a kid in a wheelchair, go and say: You are retarded. At least I hope you don’t.
But if you talk to someone and speak about another person that they are stupid, and you say he or she is retarded, the word “retard” goes in the ear of your child. They will then perfectly know how to connect that word with anyone who can’t do something, like walking or is slow because of brain damage. And when your child meets a person with any kind of brain damage, it will find it convenient to say: You are retarded.
So, you should definitely be careful of the language you use because your child is only your mirror.
To know how to educate your children to behave around special children, you must first educate yourself. I appreciated a lot when my friend said to me: “Maya, I don’t even know what to say or do in that situation myself.”
And I am being completely honest – neither did I before I became a mother. I had no clue how not be awkward in those situations.
That’s why I understand all of you who don’t know how to behave and what to say because I know that the only reason you feel blocked is because you don’t want to make a mistake. You don’t want to say the wrong thing or give the wrong look od do something wrong. And here you decide that the best is to say nothing, to ignore, to look away.
But that is hurting special parents. And I am telling you that I don’t want to preach models for good and bad behavior because I am so smart, and you should adjust to my system of good behavior values.
I am only offering a special parent perspective for educational reasons for everyone who wants to learn.
After you admit to yourself that you actually don’t know how to be around special people and don’t know how to teach your children, you can start now by practicing this every time you see a special parent and special children.
Actually, there is nothing much that you suppose to do whenever in that situation. It’s not like you have the burden to do something heavy or complicated. You can make the parent and the child feel good simply by smiling to them say “hi” and not ignoring them. Acknowledge their existence. They are here on the same planet as you, and they are not to be ignored.
Every time you cross paths on the streets with a disabled person, you can make eye contact, smile, and say, “hi.” Or just smile and nod your head. And if you sit close on a beach or picnic in the park or on the same train, you can start a conversation and compliment them that their child is very cute. For example: “Look at this beautiful girl, you are gorgeous. I love your eyes”. I would then say something nice to the mother, like “she is doing great,” because I will assume that they are doing a lot of therapies. And in the end, I would say I am so happy to meet them. Those are the things I would say, but you think of something that is more aligned with your personality and how you talk. There are countless possibilities to express politeness to unknown people.
If you do this when your child is around – BINGO! It will register that and naturally would want to copy you. Another thing you can do is encourage your child to say something to the other kid. I know that you think because the it’s in a wheelchair and has an absent look and doesn’t talk or doesn’t make eye contact, you think its pointless to say anything. Why bother, right? But here is another fact for you: All of those special children, all of them no exception, can do, feel, and understand far more then we all think. I’ve seen proves of these many times.
Think of it like this: there are also human beings, and the only difference between them and you is that they have brain damage. Nothing more. But despite brain damage, they can feel emotions such as joy. They can feel when someone is ignoring them and feel when someone praises them. They feel and understand energy in the most sensitive way, and that’s why they are the best teachers in the world.
Do experiment on this if you don’t trust me. Stand Infront of a special child of any age and say something good genuinely to them, how strong or beautiful or amazing they are, they will glow. And your “job” is pretty much that. Only that. Special parents don’t expect, and they don’t need more.
Once, we were in the park in Dusseldorf with Joana and her cousin. He wanted to spend some time at the playground with the other kids, so we stopped here for him to play for a while. I was animating Joana in her wheelchair and walking around the playground because she doesn’t want to stay still. The playground was full of children running and playing and making joyful noises. Joana loves those noises; she is used to that from the kindergarten.
Two girls around 6 years old came to me at the park and asked if they can touch her hand. I smiled and said, yes. Then those girls started singing to Joana, and they were touching her hair, and it was clear that they’ve done it before with other special children. They said something like, “Look how cute she is.” Their moms were standing aside, and they were prepared to put them away if they are bothering us. But I just smiled and raised my hand and said: No no, its fine, she likes that…
It was explosion of beautiful emotions. I was happy because Joana smiled and she liked the attention, and the girls were happy because they knew they are doing something good, and their mothers were also very proud. See? Not hard at all.
There is nothing scary here, its maybe a behavior that is unfamiliar to you. Whenever we face something unfamiliar, we try to go back to our comfort zone, where we know exactly how to behave and what to do/say. You can make this type of reaction familiar.
Sit with your children and talk to them. Explain that some children can be born that way, and that is also normal. Explain that those children live from another perspective and can’t do everything that your children can. And say this very important thing to them, that your children can make the special children to feel good, by being nice to them. Ask them if they would like it when someone is treating them right? Ask them how they would feel if others ignore them, and no one wants to talk to them? And you can turn this question to you also: how would you feel if you were in special parents’ shoes? How would you want to be treated? Well, according to your answer, you should treat them likewise.
Keep in mind that sometimes you will get a negative reaction or impolite answer from a special parent. But that’s not your fault and your responsibility. Maybe the parent is tired or offended far too many times, or maybe it’s just their personality. But that is not up to you. What is important here for you is your intention and what kind of energy you are spreading in this world. You’ve done enough by making your move, by making contact and saying something kind.
Understanding can make miracles in your life. It can save you from a lot of stress. Not just by bothering understandings for special people but for everything and everyone.
Give your best to sit and intentionally educate yourself around special children/people. It will help you not just become understanding of this category of people, but it will brother your way of understanding in general. You will become aware of different, which exists at every level, in any culture, religion, nation, etc. It is only different.
Educate yourself on this subject because people with mental and physical challenges are here, and they have something to teach us too. If you ignore them, you’ll be missing an important lesson.