Women's Journal

Introducing Your Children to the Topic of Special Needs or Disabilities the Right Way

Clint Hughes & Dr. Terri Howard-Hughes
Photo Caption To: Clint Hughes and Dr. Terri Howard-Hughes

By: Dr. Terri-Howard Hughes & Clint Hughes

Authors of the Doctor Owlkin and The H.O.M.E. Team Book Series

Raising a child with special needs or disabilities can be a challenging but rewarding experience. It is important for parents to be prepared for the challenges that their child may face, but it is also important to focus on the child’s strengths and abilities. This article provides tips for parents of children with special needs or disabilities on how to talk to their children about their differences, how to help their children develop a positive attitude, and how to deal with bullying. The article also provides tips for parents of children without special needs or disabilities on how to talk to their children about special needs and disabilities in a positive and inclusive way.

For Parents of Those with Special Needs:

Building a Strong Mindset

Talk to your child about their special need or disability – Explain how everybody has a difference; some are more visible than others. It is a wide range, from those in wheelchairs to those with no visible difference, such as a child with autism.

Talk to your child about their strengths and abilities – Reinforce that some people might be better at math than drawing (art), and some might have athletic abilities that others don’t. Nobody is perfect at everything; what is important is that you try the best you can.

Help your child develop a positive attitude – It is important for all children, but it is especially important for children with special needs or disabilities. 

Embracing Challenges

Talk about their expectations for school – Talk about what your child thinks they will like the best about school. It is important to set realistic expectations so that they are not disappointed. Ask what they expect from their teachers, classmates, and themselves. 

Practice social skills – Help your child practice their social skills, such as how to make friends, share, and take turns. This will help them to succeed in the classroom and on the playground.

Discuss how your child will handle challenges – Every child will face challenges at school, but children with special needs or special needs or disabilities may face additional challenges. Discuss with them why they might have challenges. Other children might have never been around someone with special needs or a disability and might not know how to react.  

Bye-Bye Bullies

Talk to your child about bullying – You can start by talking about the different types of bullying, such as physical bullying, verbal bullying, and cyberbullying. As a parent, you should be aware of the signs of bullying, such as changes in behavior, mood, or appetite.

Talk to your child about what to do if they are being bullied – Encourage your child to come to you if they are being bullied. Let your child know that you will always believe them and that you will help them deal with the situation. Make sure they know that they don’t have to deal with bullying on their own. Ensure your child knows that bullying is not okay; it is never acceptable, no matter who is doing it or why. They should also try to stay away from the bully and avoid situations where they might be bullied.

For Parents of Those Without Special Needs or special needs or disabilities:

The Power of Positivity

It’s never too early to start talking to children about who might have special needs or special needs or disabilities. Even young children can understand that some people are different, and it’s important to start teaching them about acceptance and inclusion at an early age. When talking to children about special needs or disabilities, it’s important to be positive. Please focus on the abilities of these children rather than their limitations. 

Overcoming the Stigma Around special needs or disabilities

When talking to children about special needs or disabilities, it’s important to use age-appropriate language. Avoid using medical terms or jargon that they may not understand or that even sound scary. Instead, focus on simple, everyday language that they can relate to. It’s important to normalize special needs or disabilities for children. This means talking about them in a matter-of-fact way as if they were anything else. This will help children see that special needs or disabilities are just a part of life and that everyone is different in their own way. One of the best ways to introduce children to the topic of special needs or disabilities is to expose them to people who have them. This could involve taking them to meet people with special needs or disabilities, reading books, or watching movies or TV shows that feature people with special needs or disabilities.

Having an Honest Q&A

Encourage children to ask questions about special needs or disabilities. This is a great way to learn more about their understanding of this topic, and it’s also a great way to start a conversation about acceptance and inclusion. When discussing with your child, make sure to answer questions honestly. Answer their questions in a way that they can understand, and don’t be afraid to use simple language. If there is a question you may not be able to answer, don’t be afraid to do the research needed to pass on the correct guidance to your child. 

Relate to your child by sharing your own experiences. If you have any personal experiences with special needs or disabilities, such as working alongside someone or a close friend with a special need or disability, be sure to share them with your children. This can help children see that special needs or disabilities are a part of life and that they can be a source of strength and inspiration. When talking to children about special needs or disabilities, it is important to emphasize the similarities between people with and without special needs or disabilities. This will help children to see that people with special needs or disabilities are just like everyone else. 

For example, you could point out that people with special needs or disabilities have the same hopes and dreams as they do!

In conclusion, we all know each child is different, and each situation is different. Start with a couple of these topics at a time to get the discussion going and to understand their thoughts on this subject. The main point is for your child to be kind and inclusive, regardless of who they are interacting with.

About the Authors:

Dr. Terri Howard-Hughes, an award-winning storyteller and founder of Mediaforce Productions, joins forces with Clint Hughes, a globally acclaimed marketing virtuoso. Terri’s rich background in journalism, video production, and inclusive education melds seamlessly with Clint’s strategic brilliance that transformed industries. Together, they craft the captivating world of “Doctor Owlkin and The H.O.M.E. Team,” a children’s series with an incredible mission to promote inclusivity and acceptance of all children despite their differences. 

Share this article

(Ambassador)

This article features branded content from a third party. Opinions in this article do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of Women's Journal.