Guest Author - Susan Hart
Dealing with stares and rude remarks from curious and nosy people is something all parents of special needs children face. The way parents handle these hurtful comments and double-takes will influence how their special needs children feel about themselves. All parents fear their children will be ridiculed or ostracized at some point. Parents of special needs children, however, know it will happen to their children. Learning how to instill in these children a sense of self worth and confidence will go a long way in helping them to cope with the social issues found in schools and in everyday society.
Early in infancy is a great time to start special needs children interacting with other children. Interacting with other special needs children as well as with typical children will greatly benefit both the parent and the child. Through interacting with other special needs children, a child will learn that being different is ok. For parents, being around other special needs children will help them to realize just how unique and important each of these special children is. It will give parents a sense of hope, as well as a forum to share fears, concerns, and triumphs with other parents in similar situations.
Interacting with typical children beginning at an early age will give a special needs child the ability to adapt in different social situations. It gives the special needs child the chance to make friends now who will accept them as they are and play with them anyway. Playing with typically developing children also helps to motivate special needs children physically and intellectually. Higher functioning special needs children notice they are different from typical children, and they want to do what their typically developing friends are doing. In this way, peer encouragement can be beneficial.
Parents have to walk a fine line when it comes to handling comments made about their special needs children. One on hand, they want to protect their children from such ridicule and try to make their children seem as “normal” as possible. On the other hand, ignoring the special needs of the child by pretending he is just like other children can make the child feel that his parents are ashamed of him because of his special needs. Because each child is different and unique, parents must find this balance individually. While this battle may never be completely over, beginning early will make it easier on everyone involved.