It becomes a vicious loop: Parents with children with
psychological disabilities do not know what to say to family,
friends and acquaintances, so they say nothing. As a result,
according to Clinical Psychologist Sheeba Daniel-Crotty, they miss
hearing people's empathy.
Daniel-Crotty, a member of the Chicago Special Parent Advisory
Board, offers these tips for helping others accept the
- Try to get the family member's perspective on how they view
your child and try to think about the situation through their eyes
so you can better explain the diagnosis.
- Gather as much information as possible about children who
struggle with similar issues and share the information.
- Try not to be defensive.
- Encourage family members to observe your child in settings,
besides where they are most comfortable, to see for themselves how
your child fits in with peers.
With neighbors and associates
- Treat your child consistently with the parenting practices and
approaches you know are effective for your child's needs.
- Explain the special needs at any opportunity you can. "I think
sometimes others' reactions are because they don't want the parent
with a child with special needs to feel different. It's sort of
like the elephant in the room; they don't want to acknowledge that
there's this problem." If a parent opens the discussion, it allows
for others' real reaction and even empathy. Be open and
informative; talk realistically.
- "If you bring the conversation to the table, I think that will
erode away at people's myths and maybe the avoidance and the
negative feelings around it."