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TIPS ON HANDLING OTHER PEOPLE'S REACTIONS ABOUT DISABILITY

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  • What you think about other people’s reactions to your child’s disability can affect how you feel and behave. People will react in different ways to your child’s disability. Understanding how your thoughts affect your feelings and behaviour can help you work out how to respond.
Most people will be supportive, sensitive and helpful. However, most people aren’t sure how to respond so they might make comments that can be unhelpful or even hurtful. Do not be offended if you come across such people because they don’t know much about your child’s disability or they’ve got the wrong information. You can try using this time to educate them if possible. Part of educating people helps them know which comments and reactions are helpful and supportive and which ones are not. We all learn every day.
  • Other people’s thoughts about disability can affect how they react to your child. You might feel supported or hurt by other people’s reactions, but accepting that there are a range of views out there can help you cope. Try not to snap and you can even challenge their comments. Emphasizing your child’s abilities and strengths encourages other people to see your child the way you do. They should see your child as a normal person and not feel pity.


Here are some helpful reactions you might come across:


•    Empathy – ‘That sounds pretty tiring. Is there something I can do to help?’
•    Respect – ‘It’s such a privilege to work with Ahmed. He’s a great kid’.
•    Positivity – ‘Femi is fantastic at painting. He is very creative. He might enjoy our after-school art group’.
•    Equality – ‘All the kids at the party will get to have a turn on the jumping castle’.
•    Encouragement – ‘I can see that you’ve worked really hard to teach David how to ask for help’.
•    Celebration of progress – ‘Tope played beautifully with Chinedu today. It’s exciting to see her progress’.
•    Helpfulness – ‘The local play ground has a fantastic swing. Would Damilola like that?’

Here are some examples of other reactions:


•    Denial – ‘There’s nothing wrong with him. Boys are like that – very active and into everything’.
•    False reassurance – ‘She’ll probably grow out of it. Some children are just slow’.
•    Anger – ‘It’s probably his father’s genes that caused it. You should have never married him’.
•    Blame – ‘It's your fault for working right up until she was born’.
•    Sibling frustration – ‘He wrecked my drawing. I hate him. I wish he wasn’t in our family’.
•    Over-protectiveness – ‘Don’t take her to the playground. She can’t see very well and she’ll probably get hurt’.
•    Teasing or bullying – ‘Let’s hide the ball from the kid with the funny eyes’.
•    Exclusion – ‘Sorry, but we can’t invite him to Jide’s birthday party. We’re having a jumping castle and he couldn’t do that anyway. He’ll just get upset’.
•    Staring, whispering, tactless curiosity – ‘What’s wrong with her?’
•    Embarrassment – people might blush or look away.
•    Intrusive questions – ‘Was he born like that because something happened when you were pregnant?’
•    Insensitivity – ‘Luckily your other children are normal’.
•    Ignorance – ‘I don’t expect Chisom to learn as quickly as the other children. After all, she has such difficulty just moving around the classroom’.
•    Discrimination – ‘Bode can’t come on the school excursion. We don’t have a bus that can take a wheelchair’.
•    Age-based comparisons – ‘She has the mind of a one-year-old’.
•    Focus on the disability rather than the person – ‘Fragile X kids usually have trouble doing that’.
•    Slang expressions – ‘How did your child end up a cripple?’
•    Unwanted or unsound advice – ‘This package I saw on the internet will fix the problem in no time’.
•    Pity – ‘It must be so sad having a child like that. Can you have another one?’

  • Some of this quotes are very hurtful but sometimes children do not even know what they are saying. If an adult says something hurtful to you as a parent it is best you ignore them or like I said earlier on just educate them.
  •  It is better for parents to educate their children especially before formative years so they know they are fearfully and wonderfully made. Build your child’s confidence so other kids will not have room to take advantage your child.
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