Are you wondering how to talk to your child about disabilities? Open communication is essential for children with epilepsy, dyslexia, cerebral palsy, or other disabilities. Conversations like this one are bound to come up again and again.
Your child’s impairment is likely to be an issue as they grow older. How you handle these conversations will significantly impact your child’s self-esteem and future success.
Recognize the Special Needs of Your Child
Sometimes, parents and guardians avoid discussing a child’s impairment because they don’t want to upset the child. If they bring up the matter, they’re worried it’ll make their youngster feel guilty or make them believe they’ll never succeed.
In the long run, however, neglecting the issue significantly harms children. Autism can be a mystery to a child who isn’t told they have the condition. Some people may form an unfavorable opinion of themselves if they make erroneous assumptions about who they are.
It is possible for a child with a learning handicap to believe that they are dumb. Although it may ease them to realize that their difficulties arise from a learning disability that causes them to learn differently than most of their peers, Recognize and be open about your child’s disability.
Openness makes your child less likely to feel ashamed or embarrassed about their condition. When you’ve talked to them about their impairment, they’ll be better able to explain it to others.
Time is of the Essence
Disabilities can be emotional, physical, intellectual, or sensory, to name just a few. The nature of your child’s impairment will significantly impact how you approach the matter. The date you learned about your child’s impairment will also play a role in your interactions.
As a parent or guardian, your experience will be vastly different from that of parents and guardians who learn of their kid’s handicap when the youngster is 10 years old. You can help your child’s self-esteem, and one of the most important ways is acknowledging their impairment and letting them know that they are capable and have a lot to give the world.
Be Straightforward in Your Talking Points
Your child’s emotions will be influenced if you speak with too much passion. Your child may feel the same way if you express sadness or fear about obstacles in their lives.
Give a straightforward explanation of your child’s handicap. Speak with your child about the science underlying their condition and address the fact that while other children can climb the stairs, they must take an elevator. But don’t go overboard with your opinions.
Do not bore your audience with long, drawn-out lectures or motivational speeches. What you do, not what you say, will teach your child more about their strengths and potential in the future. The more you treat them like capable children, the more likely they will see themselves in that light.
Truthfulness is important, but so is ensuring that the information you provide is appropriate for the time period being discussed.
When your child asks about their health or the future, be upfront and honest with them. You should only discuss facts that are appropriate for children.
Neither a 4-year-old nor a 10-year-old needs to know the newest medical study behind why they take specific medications when they inquire about their hereditary issue.
Answer your child’s inquiries straightforwardly. You can expect to get additional questions if you want more information—or you can expect to get the same question asked differently.
For example, “Your muscles have a hard time working with your bones,” or “This prescription makes it easier for you to breathe.”
Embrace Your Child’s Curiosity.
The questions your child asks regarding their handicap will alter throughout time. When kids reach puberty or begin considering alternatives for a future job, they are likely to have a new set of concerns and concerns. You won’t get such inquiries if your child assumes your response will make them feel worse, and they won’t bring it up if they believe your answer will make them feel better.
If your child has a question, let them know you’re available to answer it at any time and that they can also talk to their doctor or other members of their treatment team about it. Make it easier for your youngster to find people willing to answer their queries.
Talk to Your Child About the People Who Are Assisting Your Child
For the sake of your child’s well-being, talk about all the people doing everything they can to help them. Describe the methods scientists use to study the problem and the results they are trying to achieve.
Describe the dedication of their doctors, therapists, educators, and coaches to seeing that they achieve their full potential. Keep reminding them that their team is behind them.
Be a Sounding Board for Your Child’s Communication Skills.
Your child’s peers and even individuals in the community may inquire about your child’s impairment at school. Even while your child is under no obligation to explain, you may ease their anxiety by working with them to create a script for when they do choose to speak up.
Find out what your child wants the world to know about them. “I have Tourette’s Syndrome,” can be said by a child. When I twitch, I may be able to stop someone from bullying me. Others who have been spreading untruths about them may be silenced by their actions.
They can pretend to answer in various ways to various inquiries and remarks. You can help them by giving them a script if they’re having trouble coming up with ideas. Help them practice it with you and discuss whether or not it works for them with other people.
Pay close attention to your child’s favorable characteristics.
Spend a lot of time discussing your child’s positive attributes. Tell them and everyone else about it if they’re skilled at math or a talented artist! Assure them that their disability will not prevent them from achieving academic success.
They may only require a little more assistance in achieving their objectives. Remember to highlight out their virtues and praise the traits that you appreciate most about their character. Child’s self-confidence is greatly enhanced if they can identify their abilities.
Identify People Your Child Can Connect With As a Healthy Role Model.
Discouragement and frustration are common emotions among children. Children with disabilities may experience these sentiments regularly. Finding positive role models who have a comparable impairment to your child might give your youngster hope and motivation.
Your youngster may be inspired by the stories of others who have achieved great things despite having a disability like theirs. Do not be afraid to gently ask an adult in your community if they would want to meet with you and your child. Disabled children can benefit greatly from seeing and engaging with individuals who have had comparable life experiences.
Make Efforts to Find Help for You and Your Child
Ask for help from the teachers and therapists who work with your children. More specific advice on how to talk to your child about their impairment can be obtained from their pediatrician, speech therapist, physical therapist, or special education teacher.
Being among other parents who understand what your family is going through is another way to boost your confidence while talking to your child about complex topics. To meet other parents of children with comparable difficulties, you might join a support group in person or online.
For your child, the most important thing you can do is to read other people’s stories about their own disabilities. Despite their parents’ love and good intentions for their impaired children, many of these youngsters are abused and deprived of valuable life experiences. Because their non-disabled parents treated them in accordance with what other non-disabled people advocated, this unpleasant reality is the result.
Listen to interviews, movies, and podcasts of and by disabled individuals who describe “What they would tell their younger selves” or “what they wished their parents had told them.” Aside from that, you should expose your child to media that depicts disabled children and adults because it’s crucial to have a diverse representation and get them involved in organizations headed by and primarily composed of impaired children.
Make sure to discuss with them whether or not they’d like to meet other kids with the same condition at an acting or recreational group or a summer camp. If they show an interest, tell them them to participate. Your child’s ability to achieve their full potential may be aided by interacting with other children who have gone through similar life events.
Summer camps or support groups for kids with comparable difficulties may help your child form friendships with other people who understand what they are going through.
You and your child should be involved in the disability’s culture if there is one (e.g., the Deaf culture, the Deaf-blind culture). Remember how much space you take up as a non-disabled person is also vital. Be mindful that you’re there to help your child grow and learn, not dominate them.
To avoid your child feeling like “the odd one out,” it’s critical that you surround them with disabled individuals who can help them overcome the isolation and feeling of being “the odd one out.” To affirm your child and their handicap, you must provide them with a network of non-disabled and disabled individuals and be there for them.