Things to Say to Parents of Kids with special needs

Abbey, Kimberly’s amazing daughter

Guest bloggger, Kimberly Drew and her family spent the last several months dealing with health issues and a complicated move to a new house. But today, she’s back to talk about things to say to parents of kids with special needs.

4 Things to Say to Parents of Kids with Special Needs Again and Again

Say it again….and again.

Having a child with special needs means having many unexpected conversations with complete strangers and even more with friends and acquaintances about about our children’s progress. Plenty of blogs and articles talk about what not to say to the parent of a child with special needs. But after 12 1/2 years, there have only been a few conversations I would like to forget. For the most part, the encounters and conversations have been lovely. So I would like to share with you a few of the things that we can and should say to each other.

1. Your child is amazing. Like any other proud parent, I think my kid is pretty much the world’s greatest kid. But when someone else comes up to me and says she is amazing in some way, it warms my heart. People stop me all the time to tell me what an awesome smile has. She really does have an awesome smile. But when you take the time to notice, and to share that with me, it means so much.

2. Point out progress. We work hard for every single move toward independence in Abbey’s life. So anytime people notice something she is doing something new or different, it is such an encouragement to us. We work so hard and sometimes do not realize the subtle changes. When you point them out with enthusiasm, it reminds us that our children are moving forward. It gives us the courage to push ahead.

3. Comment on character traits. Children with disabilities are constantly evaluated intellectually and physically by medical and educational teams. We parents can get caught up in the same cycle. Occasionally, people point out that Abbey has a mothering spirit or exhibits such joy. Noticing our children’s character traits gets us out of our own heads and reminds us to see them for the beautiful human beings they are.

4. Tell how our kids have changed you. My favorite stories are from people who have told me how Abbey has changed their lives–how she has inspired them or touched their heart. When former youth group students tell me they chose a career in special education because of Abbey, I am so humbled. When a dear friend was dealing with the after effects of radiation from brain cancer told me that Abbey gave her the courage to put on leg braces….words cannot describe what that meant. We parents literally cling to the stories about how our children inspire others.

The common theme is this: celebrate. Celebrate my child, celebrate her accomplishments, celebrate her character, celebrate what she does for your heart and mind. So please, take the time to encourage other parents by celebrating their children!

What Do You Want to Hear Again and Again?

Who has celebrated your child with words? What has someone said that you want to hear again and again? Leave them in the comment box so we can celebrate your child with you.

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