Dear Parents of Special Needs Children,
There’s something I need to share with you, and I know that at first it might hurt a little- but I know you are strong and you have been through far worse than this.
I accept that your child is different, that they may have special needs and they possibly require different levels of support at times.
Of course I can see the beauty in this and I respect your child’s level of ability- I can’t, however, tolerate violence from your special little one against my own.
I understand that they may not be able to control themselves physically nor emotionally and it may genuinely be a case where this behaviour is truly within their nature or out of their control…
However doesn’t my child deserve the right to feel safe too?
Of course I know how heartless this may come across, and please believe me when I say I don’t mean to sound that way, and I know you’re probably thinking right now that your child does what they do because they can’t help themselves… but you can. You can help them.
If we’re out at the park and your little one starts screaming, kicking or biting my child, don’t make the excuse that your child has special needs and this is just how they behave, please, for the sake of my child, step in, console your child, but please don’t watch and expect my child to tolerate violence at such a young age.
I know it’s hard and it might sound isolating, but I am not suggesting that your child not be given the same rights and freedoms to enjoy public spaces the same way as mine, I’m reminding everyone that all little people have the right to feel safe, secure and respected.
Stop Making Excuses
If your child becomes overwhelmed- console them, comfort them but please don’t make the excuse that because of your child’s condition this behaviour is expected and my little one just has to tolerate continuous abuse because at such a young age this concept of tolerating violence could potentially mislead my little one in to believing they have to accept violent or aggressive behaviour from anyone- and they don’t know the difference between someone with special needs and another who genuinely just wants to harm them.
I know you might not always be there. Incidents may occur at school. But don’t just leave it to the teachers or school to sort out.
When you find out that your child has harmed another in some way, actively get involved, find out who or if the details are confidential then perhaps write a note and give it to the children’s teacher to give to the other family. Communicate with them. Actions speak louder than words and excuses, so make that connection let them know that their child’s feelings are just as valuable as your own child’s.
I understand that occasionally challenging events may occur in the home which can cause children to act out of character towards others- no child, special needs or otherwise can escape those unfortunate circumstances. But we as parents can extend ourselves to enable anyone our child has a negative impact on not to feel victimised or leave them in fear.
If you actively assist the situation, get involved and talk to both children not only are you reassuring my child that they deserve to be treated respectfully and that their feelings matter- but you are also connecting with your child’s soul and even if they don’t have the ability to regulate their emotions or behaviour, every single time you step in, as exhausting as it would be and without making any excuses, you are redirecting their energy and you may not see it right away but the positive impact you will create will make such a big difference in both our children’s lives.
I have been blessed with two severely disabled children, and four others. So I speak from experience when I say it isn’t an easy thing to do, but it is so extremely necessary in order to create a world that is accepting of everyone’s differences we must also respect others.
All children have rights.
All children have differences- they are all special in one way or another.
And whilst we may have to accept these differences no one should be forced to tolerate violent or abusive behaviour.
All children deserve to feel safe, respected and valued, it’s our obligation as parents to ensure that this occurs.