Eight Things You Can Do for Children With Special Needs

Eight Things You Can Do for Children With Special Needs

Actions speak louder than platitudes and pretty sayings

By About.comChildren With Special Needs

Maybe you’ve posted a nice message you’ve seen around social media, or an inspirational video, or a heartwarming story, and professed your appreciation for children with differences. But are you practicing what you post? If you really want to support children with special needs and their families, these eight actions will mean a lot more.

1. Give the benefit of the doubt.

Next time you’re tempted to criticize a child or a parent in a public place, consider that things may not be as they appear, and refrain from judging. You honestly may not know when you are in the presence of a child with special needs who will benefit from your grace.

2. Accept some inconvenience.

Whether it’s driving on past that handicapped parking space, honoring school food restrictions meant to protect kids with allergies, or ignoring noise from a child in a restaurant, allow yourself a little discomfort to ease the discomfort of a child with special needs.

3. Watch your language.

You probably don’t mean to be mean to children with special needs when you use words like the R-word, but your language is hurtful and demeaning and reinforcing of harmful stereotypes whether you intend it to be or not. Find some other words to use.

4. Don’t be a bully.

Anything you do that forces a child to feel left out or less than makes you a bully. There are endless rationalizations adults use to try to wriggle out of that, but it’s true nonetheless. Really think about how well you honor kids with disabilities when they’re right in front of you, not in the abstract.

5. Promote inclusion.

Sending kids with special needs out of the mainstream for school and adult living is less and less the norm, which means you will be more and more likely to have an opportunity to interact with, support, and include them in community activities. Step up.

6. Appreciate diversity.

Speaking of adult living, kids with special needs grow up and need jobs just like everybody else. Patronize businesses that employ workers with disabilities, show them patience and respect in their workplace, and offer job opportunities if you can.

7. Save your sympathy.

Feeling bad for kids with special needs and their families may be heartfelt, but it doesn’t do them much good. In fact, it often makes it easier to exclude and overlook them. Try treating kids with special needs like you would any other kid, with appreciation and delight.

8. Celebrate uniqueness for real.

Every child has strengths and weaknesses, just like every adult. All of us have special needs in one way or another. Celebrate the strengths and accommodate the weaknesses of kids with special needs just as you would like others to do for your child, and for your own unique self.

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Posted on March 1, 2014, in General and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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