My daughter’s disability isn’t anything she should be ashamed of. It doesn’t mean she’s broken and needs to be fixed. She needs to understand that. Her disability label simply explains why she is the way she is. It is one of her attributes, and it lays the foundation of her struggles and her successes. She, of all people, should know the ins and outs of it.
Our children need to know they have a disability––what it’s called, what it means for their daily life, and the supports they need to succeed.
In my opinion, we parents should have this conversation with our children when they are young. Starting young helps your child understand why they struggle with certain things and it teaches them early to advocate for themselves and their needs. It also saves our children from shock and stress when they learn about their disability later in life. They’ll come to see the disability as a very natural thing to discuss. And they can grow and develop as their disability grows and develops.
Talking to them about their disability will arm them with the words to use when the topic of disability or different ability comes up. It’s important for them to be prepared with words and knowledge.
You can make the initial conversation very matter-of-fact and casual. Avoid starting the conversation with a serious “There’s something I need to tell you” tone. If we act as if it’s not a big deal – it‘s just how it is, it’s natural – our children will accept and mimic our attitude.
We don’t have to frame our children as victims. Give the disability a name. Call it what it is. Matter of fact.
And don’t hesitate to mention it often. Don’t be afraid to talk about it.
Remember, we set the tone for how our child will feel about their disability. The more comfortable we are about our child’s disability, the more comfortable they will become.
You can find other parenting tips on this website at the Navigating Daily Life page.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.