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10 Supportive Questions to Ask Parents of Kids With Disabilities

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I follow a lot of groups on social media and there are many threads about a friend/partner/school teacher/stranger/grandparent saying the wrong thing. This is usually followed by many comments of outrage and a sharing of similar awful experiences. I too have had my fair share of absurd things said to me about my son (including “boys are just lazy” when I was talking about his global development delay.) But rather than add to this I thought I’d focus on the positive and share things that you could and should say.

1. Have you had any appointments recently?

It can be cathartic for us to talk through appointments, and believe me there are a lot!

2. How are you feeling?

Please only ask if you want an honest answer, and expect one. You may get tears, lots of tears but please keep asking us. We need to cry, it’s good.

3. What are you working on at the moment?

With every appointment comes a new list of targets to achieve or terminology to Google. We are always working on something.

4. I don’t know what to say.

Please say this, everyone should say this often. It’s better to admit that you don’t know what to say than to try and sugarcoat the situation. Often the worse things are said by people who are at a loss with where to go with the conversation.

5. That sounds really hard.

Probably more tears here but it’s good to admit that having a child with a rare disease/disability can bring challenges.

6. I don’t understand what that means.

The terminology and medical knowledge that we need to know is vast, and believe me we often don’t know what it means either; no shame in admitting it.

7. Are you worried about anything at the moment?

This is a great one as it helps us to get rid of any anxiety we are carrying around.

8. Has anything funny happened recently?

Often the worse events can be funny on reflection, share a laugh!

9. You’re doing an amazing job!

It’s lovely to hear this, it’s always lovely to hear a compliment.

10. Can I help you with anything?

Yep, I need cheesecake, lots of cheesecake.

Originally published: June 11, 2021
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