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.