Thursday, March 7, 2013

30 ways to respect kids and adults with disabilities

Yesterday was a day of awareness about respecting kids and adults with intellectual disability by not using a word that perpetuates crappy stereotypes. Today is a day of awareness, too. And so is tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that. It's part of the gig of raising a kid with special needs: raising respect for them.

Asking people to use non-derogatory language is one way to promote respect; encouraging respectful behavior, attitudes and actions are others. So what does that mean, exactly? I threw out the question on Facebook and Twitter. Check out the responses that came in from parents of kids with special needs, people with disabilities and people who generally care—then add your own.

Respecting kids and adults with disabilities means...

"Seeing the disability as an integral part, but only one part, of a human being."

"Presuming that we understand."

"Finding common ground."

"Treating them the same as you would anyone else! I hate when people act like they're walking on eggshells around my daughter because of her disability. She's just like any other 2-year-old in most ways!"

"Realizing they have a voice, even if it's not a verbal voice."

"Realizing that even though they may not be able to communicate in a typical way they definitely still have a wide range of feelings and emotions and want to be heard and understood."

"Teaching your children that different is OK."

"Seeing strengths instead of just limitations."

"Speaking to them, not about them."

"Believing in their potential to learn."

"Not pitying them."

"Treating them as you would want to be treated."

"Respecting, not judging. We all have a voice. We are all differently ABLED."

"Not limiting them to a diagnosis—instead, giving them the tools and support to reach their highest potential."

"Asking questions—don't just stare! I may walk a little differently but I'm not an animal at the zoo! I'd be more than happy to tell ya a little more about CP."

"Caring enough to educate ourselves about what disabilities are."

"Not making any assumptions."

"Understanding that it is our differences that make us individuals and make life interesting!"

"Listening to them. Waiting and not finishing sentences for them."

"Not identifying anyone by their diagnosis—i.e., not saying 'a bipolar' or 'a schizophrenic' or 'a quadriplegic' etc."

"Fostering their independence as much as possible."

"Not taking up the handicap spot with your motorcycle!!! Drives me nuts! How the HECK am I suppose to get my son out of my vehicle without knocking your BIKE over???"

"Talking to them like they are important and their opinion matters."

"Seeing their humanity, not their disability, first."

 "Allowing your children to be curious and ask questions. Ignorance doesn't allow for acceptance."

"Patience. Have lots of patience. Especially when we check out at a store. Why is everyone in such a rush?" 

"Celebrating that we all have something special to offer this world."

"Equal opportunities, integration, communication, awareness, understanding and necessary supports."

"Accepting, not just tolerating."

"Teaching the next generation to respect kids and adults with disabilities, too."

Respecting kids and adults with disabilities also means... 

"More to their mommies than you'll ever know!" 

"More to the differently-abled population than anyone can imagine!"

"The world to those who love them."

Image: istock/Thinglass


  1. WOW!!! I'm so honored to have my comments on your blog! I feel like a celebrity now~ even if no one knows which is mine!! ;) Thanks for making my day!!!!! thanks~D.Grider

  2. Thank you for this! Love the handicap parking comment by the way, drives me nuts too! That and people leaving their shopping carts in the space.

  3. I agree with all 30 things on the list I particularly love "Seeing the humanity and not the disability, first" I cannot tell you how many times I've felt like people saw my disability and not me.

  4. This is awesome. My son is 14/ASD and he notices more than you realize, he sees someone staring or if someone shoves past him in a hurry he gives them "The Look" ! I've seen this look before, he got it from me ! Thanks for sharing ! :)

  5. I have bipolar disorder and epilepsy. I volunteer with people who have disabilities. One thing I've learned is no one can do everything -- disabled or able bodied. Calling use differently abled is ridiculous and offensive. Can you do everything? Certainly not. We celebrate the things we can do and we accept there are some things that aren't going to work. This, my friend, is the human condition. The best part of society is being able to pull together and each do whatever we can. There is power in this.

  6. Re: parking spots...ask the store manager to page the owner to move their motorcycle or be towed! And if the manager won't, they don't need our business.

  7. When YOU are staring and I offer information so u don't have to ask...please don't continue to give us the blank stare. It makes me wish you were really a punching bag!

  8. Questions don't hurt, Ignorance does! said by Geri Jerral on Facts of Life
    Dont stare or make assumptions, ask questions instead
    Allow inclusion without focusing on the disabily

    1. I remember Geri! So sad I had forgotten such a valuable quote. Thanks for posting :)

  9. You can go from an able body and mind to being totally disabled like what has happened to me due to several workman's comp injuries. So count your blessing everyday. Just give them love and respect and watch them grow! Its amazing what " disabled" people can do and the unconditional love they have! Volunteer at your local special Olympics group you will learn a lot from these fantastic individuals.....

  10. Letting your kids play with mine.
    Simple enough
    My daughter Ava is 8 and has Spina Bifida. My other daughter Hannah is 5 and has Rett's Syndrome. So many times when other people see my kids has special needs they wont let their kids play. My eldest is starting to relize this and does not understand. Niether do I. They are kids and they want to play.

  11. I hate it when people say that autistic people are rude, noisy, and not very intelligent. I am autistic, have a 4.0 GPA, and I am in two advanced classes.

  12. Another great post!! Acceptance and respect are key and they are taught. If only society could see the person instead on the disability we would all be in a better place. I don't undeerstand why it's so hard to accept that there is NO one normal. Our loved ones with disabilities are normal it's just our normal.

  13. i know how you feel i have down sysrem i know the jokes and the wispers and talking behind my back i am glad that you stand up to
    to yourself and stop them to stop saying the word thank you so much really

  14. Nice content i love this and is it fine if i share this information to my listeners on my programme?

    1. Hi! Yes, of course, would be great to discuss on your radio program (I assume that's what you mean).


Thanks for sharing!

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