Letting Your Kids Know It’s Okay To Ask Questions About The Special Needs Child In Their Class
Updated: Dec 3, 2019
Written By: Vanessa Marshall
I am a mom of an almost 4 year old special needs daughter. I still have trouble putting myself in that category. I’m just a mom. I wonder if other special needs moms feel that way too? As I approach some topics surrounding my experience and views on this subject please know I am new to this world, all of my opinions are my own and how this journey has been for me. I do not speak for every special needs parent out there. I only hope I can help you and your children be more comfortable with a topic that can leave us very nervous, anxious or even scared to approach.
My daughter at almost 4 years old has major speech delays saying only around 10 words. She can not communicate her needs verbally but loves to chat, she babbles all day long! She is in a wheelchair as her gross motor is also significantly delayed, although we do expect she will walk at some point she is just not there yet.
My daughter is getting ready to start junior kindergarten (eeekkk I’m terrified) I started to think about all the questions, concerns, curiosity and stares that WILL happen.
Please moms let them happen.
Allow your children to ask questions, sometimes it might come out as “what’s wrong with her” and I know as adults we can feel embarrassed when our kids are so straight forward with their questions but it’s ok. We know they are children, they do not have those filters yet and they really just want to know. They are not trying to offend anyone, they are not being rude, they are just curious. I think it is great when kids want to know the details or why my daughter is “different”. I would rather a child run up to her and say “what’s wrong with her” then never approach her at all. Answering their questions allows them to understand a little bit better and to be more comfortable around the child and any special equipment, tubes, chairs they may have or noises they may make.
Children are very to the point beings. Once we explain in a way they can understand their response is usually…..”oh, ok. Can i go play now”. We as adults tend to over think so many things. Children don’t need to know every little detail they just need the main points and a logical reason to why something is happening or is different. They process, accept and move on.
My daughter sometimes has issues regulating her emotions when she is overwhelmed with a lot of children, unfamiliar noise or new surroundings. My daughter is non-verbal so how she shows us this frustration or anxiety is by hitting herself with both hands on either side of her head. My daughter had started a new daycare and when she did this for the first time around them the children laughed. Heart breaking for a mom right? But to the children who didn’t know this was a scared or frustrated motion for her they think she is being funny. As soon as I explained to the children that when she does this it sometimes means she is scared or upset the very next time she started hitting herself there was no laughter and a few of them were saying “it’s ok Georgia”. Heart melt, right? It is ok that they didn’t understand, how would they if they have never seen or experienced this before.
Going into this school year try to be aware. Is there a child in a wheelchair? Do any kids have a tracheotomy, feeding tube, oxygen? Are there any down syndrome or autistic children? Are your children looking at them, asking about them or even seem nervous around them? Ask your children if they have any questions about “Jack” or “Georgia”. If you can’t answer their questions ask the teacher how you can better answer these questions for your child or if you are comfortable and often see mom or dad and they seem approachable, ask them. I would never ever take offence when someone approaches me with questions. I would much rather them know the situation, get comfortable and include my child then to be scared of the unknown and her be left out and just stared at.
Growing up I think we often thought and were told it’s rude to stare, which in some situations it can be. If you notice your child staring, ask them if they have any questions or if there is anything they want to know about whatever and whoever they are staring at, don’t just say “it’s not polite to stare”. Lets practice being inclusive this year and teaching our children it is ok to be curious.