20 things not to say to parents of special needs children

What Not To Say

When you have a child with special needs, people often don’t know how to act. Some try to be comforting, some are curious; some think they know better and some are just clueless. While I appreciate all those who try to be kind, sometimes it gets a little old answering the questions and responding to the clichés. I realize every parent of a child with a disability or special needs has their views on what bugs them, but here are a few examples of what I think you should never say to a parent of a child with disabilities. What else have people told you? Tell us in the comments!

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  1. “Your child can’t walk yet? Well, you should be grateful! Once they start walking, they get into EVERYTHING!” - Oh yes, lucky me.
  2. “Oh, your child can’t talk / walk? Don’t worry, they’ll get it.” Well, I really hope so, but unless you’re psychic, this is a very real, terrifying waiting game for me, and I don’t know if she will ever “get it”, so don’t tell me not to worry.
  3. “God never gives you more than you can handle.” – I have far more than I can handle, believe me.
  4. “Have you tried…” Thank you for trying to be helpful, but please stop trying to be helpful. Chances are her team of doctors and therapists has already suggested whatever your are about to say. You don’t want to hear all the things I’ve tried.
  5. “Oh, I’m sorry.” This one doesn’t bother me but I know it bothers some parents. I think people don’t know what to say, so they say this. It’s hard to hear because it implies that my child is something to mourn, but my child is beautiful just the way she is.
  6. “Everything happens for a reason.” - What possible reason existed to make life so much harder for my child?
  7. “Oh, your child can’t talk yet? You should be grateful! My child never shuts up!” - Hardy har, you are bucket of laughs, my friend.
  8. “All your child needs is some old fashioned discipline.” Uh huh. If I smack him a couple times, I’m sure that will fix his brain abnormalities.
  9. “She is too big to be riding in that stroller / grocery cart. You should make her get down and walk!” – She can’t. And do you know how heavy this kid is? It’s hard enough getting her in and out of the car seat, bathtub, bed, swing, scale at the doctor’s office and everywhere else!
  10. “Don’t worry! I’m sure she’ll be fine. My brother didn’t talk until he was 3.” – I’m glad your brother learned to talk but that has nothing to do with my child.
  11. “He looks so normal!” - Please, please, please do not say my child is not “normal”. That makes me crazy. There is no “normal” – typical or average are more true to life.
  12. “Well no parent really knows that their child will be ok. They might grow up and get into an accident!” - Yes, they might and that would be terrible. But thanks for belittling my pain while telling me this hypothetical, depressing scenario.
  13. “I don’t know how you do it! I never could!” Of course you could and would if it was your child. We all do the best we can.
  14. “He doesn’t walk because you hold him too much. Just put him down and he will figure out he has to walk if he wants something! It worked with my son!” – You should put your child down and tell them can’t have the toy until they use their wings to fly over to get it. Then you’ll have an idea how well this idea will work with my child.
  15. “What’s wrong with her?” - Back away from me, very slowly, and I won’t hurt you.
  16. “God has a plan!” - I wish God had thought through this plan a little more… maybe asked me my opinions on it.
  17. “Oh, she’s fine! All kids do that!” – Would you tell that to her team of specialists? I’m sure they’d love your opinion.
  18. “Did you do something when you were pregnant to make him like that?” I want to slap people who say this. It goes hand in hand with the invasive questions about whether I took medicine, drank or took drugs, if it’s hereditary or contagious…
  19. “She’s a blessing just like every child!” Of course she is! The fact that you’re saying this implies that there is some doubt on the subject.
  20. “You must have your hands full!” I prefer to say I have my heart full.

Please comment below and share your experience with us, or give us a feedback about this article. If you think some tips are not included here, please let us know so that we could share them with the rest.