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How do you explain your child's special needs when you are out and about....

19 replies

Blossomhill · 16/03/2005 20:58

I just wondered how everyone deals with situations such as the park when socialising with other children, shoe shop etc If an incident happens or your child is having difficulties ie at the shoe shop, hairdressers. How do you (if you do) explain it to Jo Public???
Especially when it isn't obvious (like with dd) that they have sn.

OP posts:
macwoozy · 16/03/2005 21:00

I will very much read this one with interest, exactly my concerns as well.

Blossomhill · 16/03/2005 21:01

As I don't have a dx as such I do explain when booking hairdressers apointments, dentists etc that dd has difficulites with communciation and that they need to be patient, not have her waiting around etc

OP posts:
maddiemo · 16/03/2005 21:01

I actually tend to say he has learning difficulties or problems with understanding as I find people just tend to accept this.

If I say autism people seem to question it and expect him to be difficult and aggressive.

Jimjams · 16/03/2005 21:03

If I'm getting tuts I say "he can't talk" as that confuses people enough for them to back off. if they're being nicer then I say he's autistic.

Jaysmum · 16/03/2005 23:00

I just let J be J and if they dont like it....well tough!!!!!
I am so fed up with the stares and funny looks...the snide comments and the bully boy laughter because J dosent understand what is being said to him...
I will quote a saying I have picked up from another site I visit......
"you laugh at me because I am different.....I laugh at you because you are all the same"!!!!

J's world is a hell of a lot better than the bloody place I am living in at the moment.....his world is not filled with hatred , ignorance and

Can you tell I have had a bad day???????

ThomCat · 16/03/2005 23:08

If someone is smiling at her bum shuffling around and then ask 'how old is she' and I say just over 3 I normally then just add, she's got DS so she's late walking, but she certainly finds her own way to get round and then we have a chat and they've left knowing something about a child with DS.

heartinthecountry · 17/03/2005 10:46

Interesting. Was kind of thinking about this this morning. This afternoon I am taking dd to a kiddie's party at my work. Now a lot of my colleagues know I have a daughter, I don't think many of them are aware that she has SN. TBH I am feeling a bit nervous about it.

I always find myself in this kind of dilemma. I don't want to 'introduce' dd as 'this is X, she has learning disabilities'. Don't see why I should as I don't think it should define her. But on the other hand I know I will wonder if people are looking at her and wondering why she isn't walking, talking etc. If people ask me directly then that's fine, I can explain. Its the kind of sideways looks and not saying anything I find difficult to know how to handle. I am torn between wanting to 'justify' dd but also not seeing why I should... hmmm.

MandM · 17/03/2005 11:01

As thomcat has already written, beacuse dd is not yet walking and still relatively young (3, nearly 4) the first question people tend to ask is "how old is she?" and I then normally tell them her age and explain a little bit about why she's not walking, most people appreciate the insight. There have been the odd few people who's tone of voice or the look they have given or just something about them, has made me feel that even attempting to give them an insight would be worthless, so I've given them short shrift rather than waste my time.
Actually had this situation at nursery this morning. I usually drop dd off at the private day care part of the nursery at 8am and she stays there for an hour before going into the 'nursery school' at 9am so I don't normally do the 'playground natter' with other mums. However I took her myself at 9 today because it was 'school photo' day and I wanted to make sure she looked half decent for her picture I could just imagine the untucked clothes and lopsided pigtails staring at me on my desk for the next 20 years, if I hadn't!!! Anyway, I got talking to one of the mums whilst we were queueing for the photographer and she started asking me a few friendly, well-intentioned questions about dd. So I explained a little bit about dd to her and she was really pleased to have learnt a little bit more about her.....and she commented on how neat dd's pigtails were!!!!!

ThomCat · 17/03/2005 11:13

That's how i feel MandM, although I completley understand where HITC is coming from. I want people to see Lottie for Lottie before seeing her as the little girl with DS. However they don't usually spot it, it's only becasue she's not walking that people stop to wonder why and I see it as a great opportunity to open their eyes a bit. They may leave me thinking, wow, I can't believe that little girl had DS, she looked, 'normal' and was very sweet and happy, and the mum seemed very positive and was young as well, and I didn't think children with DS looked so normal and are so normal' etc etc. That can only be a good thing. I'd rather tell people and possibly help to educate them than them go away and mutter to other mums 'what do you think is wrong with her that's she don't walking' and so on.

MandM · 17/03/2005 11:26

I think it can work both ways aswell. I was at a soft play centre with Marley a few weeks ago and met a 'young' mum (about the same age as me, so definitely young! LOL) who had two gorgeous dds with her. Her dd1 was about the same age as Marley and her dd2 was about 12months and had DS. We got chatting and I asked her a few questions about her dd2 and she did the same. It was really nice for both of us to be able to chat and ask questions about each others dds , and their heart conditions and the 'not walking yet' thing and know that we were both genuinely interested and not just being 'nosey'. So it definitely made me think about being more open with other people I come across with SN children, as long as the situation is appropriate.

lou33 · 17/03/2005 12:22

If kids ask, i usually say his legs aren't v strong an he can't walk yet, or he was wonky legs. If adults ask i tell them he has cerebral palsy.

coppertop · 17/03/2005 12:25

Ds2 is only 2yrs old so people just tend to assume that his tantrums etc are part of the terrible twos. I get the same tuts etc with ds2 as probably most mothers with NT toddlers do.

Ds1 tends not to have public meltdowns any more so he doesn't attract much attention from other people. If he doesn't answer back when someone talks to him people usually say "Awww. He's shy!" That's fine by me too.

He used to hate having his hair cut and screamed the place down. I just explained that he wasn't keen on having his hair cut but that I would hold him still etc. They were fine with that. He actually likes having it cut now and will ask if he can go and sit "in the big chair" while it's being cut.

The school obviously know that he's autistic, including the dinnerladies. Someone I know lives near one of the dinnerladies. They were talking about autism and the dinnerlady apparently said, "We've got a little boy with autism at our school. He's so lovely!"

Dh's work colleagues know that our 2 boys are autistic and were really surprised when they met them on a works outing. Apparently the ds'es are not the way dh's colleagues imagined they would be.

Dingle · 17/03/2005 13:09

If someone is "looking on" I will always try to be open about Amelia. "Yeah, it can be hard work at times, she doesn't speak much yet, BUT she does this or that... WOW, look what she can do."
Some people may think that it's like justifying her and her SNs but I want people to be able to approach us and ask, rather than shy away and remain ignorant.
I am eventually starting to harden, to the second looks she gets, I can see past the DS (IYKWIM) so I can look at her and just see this beautiful, wide eyed, cheeky little girl, but what others see, I don't know.
I do however let people know when booking,etc..In the hope that they would consider things don't alway go as smoothly as perhaps you would like them to!

anniebear · 17/03/2005 20:54 did your afternon go?

sparklymieow · 17/03/2005 21:01

I just say to kids "well C's (or B's, whoever I have with me at the time) legs don't work as well as your" sometimes I get asked "why??" and then I just say "well, their brain got hurt a bit when they were babies"
With adults I just say "he or she has Cerebral Palsy.

pixel · 19/03/2005 16:42

I found myself thinking of this thread today when I was talking to our next door neighbour. She thought ds was 'shy' and I could have left it at that but as we will probably be seeing a lot of her an explanation seemed in order. So, I took my cue from Jimjams and said "he can't talk" as I didn't fancy trying to explain autism to a stone deaf 88 year old in the middle of the street! Thanks Jimjams!

Only trouble is, she automatically assumed that there is some physical reason why he can't speak and started burbling on about "the wonderful things doctors can do nowadays". Oh well, perhaps she'll only ever see him being angelic and I can just let her carry on thinking that!

Merlot · 19/03/2005 23:43

Oh this is terribly tough isnt it? I think not having a dx makes it harder in some ways as you can end up giving a rambling, confusing explanation and I sometimes feel like shouting `beam me out of here Scottie' because I've dug myself further into a pit

I used to want to explain to every well meaning checkout lady (who cooed and smiled at ds2) that we thought he had developmental probs, as no amount of waving is going to get him to wave back! As he is getting older (and the fact that he is so quiet is getting more apparent) I tend not to explain anything unless specifically asked!

KarenThirl · 20/03/2005 07:24

Merlot, I agree with you about lack of diagnosis making it harder to explain. I had to offer an explanation to J's swimming coach a couple of months ago when his behaviour was getting out of hand, and all I could say was "He has behaviour difficulties and is being assessed for ADHD". Of course, with the current mass hysteria about ADHD being a cop-out for bad parents who feed their kids nothing but blue pop she just looked at me like I was making excuses for him, then tightened up the discipline even further. That helped a lot (not).

Funnily enough, now that we have a dx I feel less inclined to 'need' to explain J's behaviour - in a way I was probably looking for an explanation for myself rather than for other people, and frankly the glarers can sod off now that I know.

Jimjams · 20/03/2005 08:38

rofl pixel! OUr elderly next door neighbour is pretty switched on luckily. She always says "oh I love hearing ds1 come hokme from school as I know it's time to get up and do something" and I always inwardly cringe thinking about the screaming that accompanies him coming home.

Unfortunately her son isn't so switched on as we managed to block our drains which flooded thier garden (whoops). It was blocked with a towel which I assumed that ds1 flushed down there last summer when he was going through his flushing phase. He said "well tell him to stop" Hmmmm. (we did contribute to paying for it- and offered to pay the whole amount). And what has ds1 started doing almost as soon as the drains were cleared? Flushng things down the toilet again! Time for a bolt on the outside of the bathroom.

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