The world is already very cruel to special kids, and to their parents too. Do you really want to be the person that adds insult to injury. If you aren’t (and we were hoping you would say that), then it is best to know what things you must never say to moms of kids with down syndrome, autism, and other special disabilities. The following phrases and statements are just non-negotiable no-nos:
1. “At least your baby/ child looks normal”- First of all, what is that supposed to mean? That the parent should be thankful that his child looks normal as opposed to abnormal? Were you expecting the child to look abnormal, just because he has some special needs? Really, there is no right way to say this without coming off as someone who is really insensitive.
2. “I’m so sorry”- You may think that having a special child is a curse, but you don’t know what the parents are thinking. They may feel so thankful and blessed to even have that presence in their lives. Even though your “I’m so sorry” comes from a good place, it won’t sound, and come out right. You don’t want the parents to think that you pity them, so avoid saying this to them.
3. “Their life expectancies are not very long, right?”- Everyday, there are more and more breakthroughs that happen in the world of medicine and science. There are many conditions, who may have been believed to affect lifespans before, but thanks to medicine, this is changing, and many children with different special conditions can now live onto adulthood.
4. “What will happen to her when you get old, or pass away?”- Is it really your business? And don’t you think the parents think about that reality every so often? For sure, parents and guardians of kids with special needs are always looking for ways to make arrangements should something bad happen to them. You don’t have to be the downer that not only states the obvious, but puts everyone in either a sad, or just plain uncomfortable mood.
5. “Did you not consider abortion?”- Again, one of those things that are definitely none of your business. Abortion is a personal choice, and some people are for it, while others are against it. A kid who is special, or one that has Down Syndrome does not need to be gotten rid of simply because of the condition that he has. You cannot dictate your thoughts to the parent, who also have their own set of beliefs. Besides, when you say this, it’s like you’re saying that you would rather if they had aborted their child. So you’re kind of saying that you don’t want their child to live, which is definitely, very, very insulting!
There are so many horrible things that moms and dads of special children hear about and receive every single day. Are you guilty of saying one of these things, or something equally offensive to them? What other horrible things have you heard or said? We’d love to know!
Guest post by Sam Briones, a freelance writer who also contributes at Technovate Translations. If not writing on language and culture, she’s on the keyboard writing about fashion and pop culture.