Friday, March 18, 2011

The Stares

I recently saw this video on Facebook.  While Abby is not deaf, we will most likely be using signing to communicate...and we can relate all-too-well to the stares.  We haven't encountered any blatant rudeness yet, but I am sure we will not be able to avoid it forever. 

We had an experience with a little girl about Caleb's age at the pediatrician's office while we were waiting for the elevator.  She pointed to Abby's tubes and asked what they were.  Her mother hushed her, much like a lot of you would have done...much like I would have done not so long ago.  I told her mom that it was okay and invited the little girl to come over to the stroller.  I showed her the tubes and explained that they help Abby to breathe.  She asked why she had them and I told her that Abby had trouble breathing when she was born and that these make it so that she can.  She explored the stroller a bit more and asked lots of questions.  By the time the elevator came, this little girl had gotten quite an introduction to trachs and vents!

My point is, don't shush your kids when they encounter a special needs child.  That makes them feel like it's something to be ashamed of.  It also probably makes the family of the child feel uncomfortable and singled out.  Instead, explain what is going on in a kind and compassionate way in words they can understand.  If you don't feel comfortable or aren't sureof the problems , the parent of the special needs child may also be willing to explain. 

Honestly, I like taking the fear out of the situation.  Fear causes teasing and rejection, but knowledge brings acceptance and understanding.


Amy said...

I couldn't agree with you more. Our son is profoundly hearing impaired, and I LOVE the way children react to his hearing aids. They always ask specific questions. "What are those things? What do they do?" Once we explain that they are computers that help him hear (we usually compare them to a person who can't see very well wearing glasses), they completely forget about them. Adults, on the other hand, usually just stare. When they have the nerve to ask, usually its something like, "What's wrong with him?" Many times I've had to bite my tongue, becuase my desired response is, "Nothing! What's wrong with you?" Grrr...

Anonymous said...

So very well said Julie; you are wise beyond your years and that comes from many aspects of your life but particularly with having a special needs child. BTW, Abby just keeps getting cuter and cuter!!


Erika said...

Thank you for posting this. Now I know that it's okay to encourage questions in a respectful appropriate manner. I was always afraid that we would embarrass the Mom or the child by putting them on the spot but it's nice to hear a different perspective. Thanks!