10 Things to Do When Someone is Being Rude to Your Child with Special Needs

…or anyone else with a disability for that matter!

I’ve been reading a lot of those lists of 10 things lately: 10 Things to Say to Someone Who Just had a Baby with Special Needs, 10 Things to Do When Someone is Being rude, 10 things to Do with Rubber bands… Well, it was that list of 10 things to do when someone is being rude that got me to thinking. The answers were well, rude. It made me wonder about a healthier way to respond, one which could take a bad situation and bring some good into it. So, these are some of the things that came to mind:

  1. What to do when people stare: always take the opportunity to smile. Nick Vujicic says that one of the best things his mother taught him was to smile when people were staring at him. It usually breaks the ice and brings people back into the reality that they are staring at a real person.
  2. When people are saying rude things: introduce yourselves because it’s always easier for people to be rude to someone they don’t know: “I thought we should introduce ourselves. I’m ___________ and this is my son ___________. How are you today?”
  3. What to do when people are obviously whispering about you: sing,“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world!” just loud enough so that those who are being rude can hear and be sure to do it with a big smile on your face, keep walking and don’t make a big deal about it! If we get hurt, defensive and angry, that is the example we are being to our children. What is the most important thing- what others say about us or what God says? Teach your child who they are in Christ and who He created them to be, that is the truth that they need to know and understand!
  4. What to say in response to people who are saying truly hurtful things loudly to one another about your child, “Hi there, I just wanted you to keep in mind that my child does have a disability but he also DOES have feelings. Thank you so much.” Remember to smile, and use a pleasant tone of voice.
  5. How to answer the question, “What is his problem?”  or “What’s wrong with her?” Use the opportunity to educate, “Well, there’s no problem here!  (or, “Nothing is wrong-”) But my child does have a disability. Would you like to know about it?”
  6. If people are saying harassing type comments or doing things to draw attention to you or your child, our natural mother hen response is to peck someone’s eyes out but in real life, this only makes matters worse. “Kill them with kindness” is the old saying that still works… most of the time. Don’t try to change the situation with ugly stares or angry words. If ignoring them doesn’t work then do the opposite, walk right up and say, “Hi there! My name is ____________ and this is my little girl ____________. She’s really special to me, would you like to know why?” They will either: a.bolt like lightening, b.stand shocked with mouths open, or c.turn red with embarrassment. If they stand still long enough, you can tell them a really sweet story.
  7. What to do if someone says something like this about your child with autism: “They just need some discipline.” Ask, “Would you discipline your child because he can’t speak Japanese?”  (or Spanish or German or Russian, etc.) And then when they give you that deer in the headlights look- you can tell them that you are doing your very best to teach your child how to behave in this social setting but they haven’t quite figured it out just yet so disciplining him would be out of the question but thanks for the idea…
  8. What to do if you see someone you don’t know being harassed (while we are on the subject): ALWAYS get involved! People have a real mob mentality, if just one person speaks out against injustice, others will step in as well. If no one does anything, the harassment will continue or escalate.  If it’s something like kids teasing another child or even with adults, say something simple, “OK guys, that’s enough.” Then introduce yourself and befriend the person being teased. Stay with them for a few minutes to make sure the situation is defused. If it’s a more volatile situation, call 911 and do it where you are visible and the people doing the harassing can see and hear you intervening.
  9. What to do when your relatives focus on the negative things about your child: tell them that you are learning to look at the positive instead of the negative, tell them about all of the amazing things that your child IS doing, and tell them how God is blessing you through your child with disabilities.
  10. And at the end of each day, forgive. Choose to forgive those who have hurt you and your loved ones. Also- ask God to forgive you for your own response to the situation, the anger, hatred, bitterness, revenge or even the feelings of murder that popped into your mind and heart at the time (murder? Yep, happens to all of us, it’s that, ‘I could just kill someone!’ feeling). And choose to bless rude people rather than curse them… how can you stay bitter when you’ve just blessed someone?

Don’t let the evil in this world change you or the ones you love.

Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world! Our God promises to supply ALL of your needs, including  those emotional needs that you have each day. He has plans to prosper you and NOT to harm you, he will use all of this to make you and your loved ones a better and stronger person and he will even use the ignorance and insensitivity of others to do so.



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  1. Thank you for sharing this Kara! It is so right on!

  2. Wow. I am new to your site. Someone posted this entry on FB and the title caught my attention. Wow. I needed to read this today and have been looking for a blog like this for a long time. There are so many easy and negative ways to handle a situation. Thank you for the encouraging words and some new tools for the arsenal that might bring focus to a situation rather than more tension.

    God Bless!

  3. As a teacher and a parent of a special needs child, this is the perfect article to share as a new school year starts.

  4. Thank you for this. It was very helpful. My child isn’t special needs, but he looks different than the kids in our neighborhood. He’s a happy and friendly 4 year old. He burns easily and has to stay inside if it’s too hot or sunny outside, or wear long sleeves while outside. I didn’t respond well today, but I think I learned some better ways to respond next time. Thanks for writing this.

  5. What beautiful examples of how to respond in love. It is good to be reminded that God can use the insensitivity and ignorance of others for our good and His glory. Thank you.

  6. My kids don’t have disabilities, but I will apply these rules toward any rudeness we encounter. We normally do so anyway, but the encouragement is appreciated!

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