Friday, September 3, 2010

Rant #1 - But WHY do you need a diagnosis to teach your child about mine!!??

The first Us and Them rant is mine.

If my typical child goes to the playground, and is wierd, then the other kids react, and tell him that he "has" to quit that...and so he does, and he learns that he must not do X.

If my child with a diagnosis goes to the playground, and is weird, then they run to their parents, and ask what is wrong with that "funny-looking little girl over there?" And then their parents gawk at my child and try and round up a word that is all inclusive and defines that child. They tell their kid and because they got some kind of medical term thrown at them, they avoid my child like they have some kind of contagious plague...because there must be something crazy wrong with them to get their parents all freaked out... Consequently, my child pursues them because they were her friend just a minute ago...and they panic and my child is left alone and bewildered.

If the parent had told them that they didn't know, or told them the basic information that they had asked for in the first place, they would be more likely to go back to doing what they were doing and respond naturally to my baby...

Elise craves routines and clear boundries. I believe that most children do...but it is even more necessary for her. If she hugs Suzy and Suzy looks her in the eye and says "No hugs, please." Elise is more likely to abide by that boundary, than if Suzy runs away and whispers about her and refuses to make eye contact for the next 2 weeks.

I understand that it is easier to sort people than it is to get to know them, but we miss out when we avoid what we don't understand.

So, if your child comes up to you and says "what is wrong with that funny-looking girl?" Try out questioning back, "what do you mean?" Or answer honestly and specifically.

On a child with a hearing aide-
"What is wrong with that kid's ears?"
instead of :
"They are bionic ears!" or "He's deaf." or something embroidered and entertaining
"I'm not sure. He may not be able to hear very well. I think they are hearing aides, and they just make it louder so he can hear what you can."
If you think your child can ask nicely, you can encourage them to ask that child or their parent...

On a child that has Downs or some other physical differences:
"What's with the funny-looking girl?"
"Everyone is made differently, and she has feelings, too. Be nice and try and include her."
"She has something called Down Syndrome and she has some thing inside her called a chromosome that is confusing her. She can still play and understand you, let her do what she can."

Sometimes I tell kids who are confused that "Her heart is only 4 years old, even though her body is 7. She wants to play, and you can tell her to play nice if you have to."

I advocate answering only the questions that are asked. Do not bombard with unnecessary information...they will follow up when they need it. Plus, you will not have to "fix" your embroidery down the road.

But if there is no need to pigeon-hole someone, don't. You don't define everyone for your child, try to avoid doing that with people with obvious issues...they are still people and if your child learns that now, all the better.

People are people. Kids are kids. Talk, learn, make friends. I promise it will change your life in a good way.


  1. Thank you. Thank you for this. I've read through your first 4 posts already. And I've subscribed in my google reader.
    Thank you for explaining. I am a parent ot a "typical" child, by adoption. And we get looks and stares and people make rude comments (he is of a different race) and I know they don't compare at all to the comments you hear, or the treatment Elise receives.
    Thank you for helping educate us... those who want to know what to do, what to say, how to explain it to our children, how to treat children that may not look or behave the same.
    Thank you. I look forward to readnig and learning. And praying for your amazing family.


  2. Miss Tiffany this made me cry because Elise is so special! I love your little girl (actually, I love all your children!) Elise is such a special daughter of Christ and she is so unique. It breaks my heart that parents have the gull not to understand how all children thrive on friendship, whether they are a "typical" child, have Downs, are Autistic...every child needs love and friendship. I think these parents are SO wrong because they are sheltering their children from the real world. In our society today everyone is different and by pulling their children away from her, they are not only hurting Elise's feelings, but hurting their child's sense of understanding as well! This post is the reason I want to be a Special Needs teacher! Send lots of love to my favorite 7 year old!

    Sarah Maxwell

  3. Your blog is looking great! I'm so glad you're doing this. I'm sure it will help US and THEM. :p

    However, I feel a bit badly after reading the first part of this post. I'm a parent of "typical" children and suddenly my careful choice of words if taken too long to come out, are viewed as gawking? :( What if I don't know right off the bat, but want to answer with a good, kind, thoughtful, relevant answer? and not with just a label?

    Granted I have never been in this situation, really, but I would think the natural reaction would be just to tell my kids I don't know and to play with all children the same - regardless of outward appearances.

    You have a big heart doing this, and you have excellent posts so far. My feelings just got a bit hurt by the first part of this post (by the end we were all mended, no worries!) I wanted to share this with you because I don't want others to quit reading early and not come back. "Rant #1" sounds like there are more to come. Are you planning on complaining about "parents of typical children" again? :(

    I TOTALLY agree with your comment about racism being no different than this. People are people, no matter the outwardly appearances. ((hugs))

  4. One other thought - from the little I know about search engines, you would probably get better rankings in google, etc, if your title read something more along the lines of "How to Answer the Awkward Questions" or "The Best Way to Explain Down Syndrome to your Child" etc. Use titles that people will or could search for!

  5. Tiffany,
    I am thankful for this blog as a hearing impaired adult. I have gone through the motions of physically fighting in school up til 8th grade, to the motions of walking away, and the motions of laughing it off when people inquire about my unique voice and that thing in my ear or around my chest (back in my toddler and elementary years i had a hearing aid "bra" i had to wear over my clothes to hold the hearing aid boxes before the smaller behind the ear was available to me).
    I just tell children i have a voice God gave me, or i just have a different kind of voice but i'm still the same kind of person they are, i just have to be able to see their mouths when they are speaking to me. thats all. so i can feel for you, and pray that US and THEM can blend the boundaries and co exist with one another seamlessly without stares, questions, pointing fingers and all that stuff.
    God is using you in a great way to reach out and education THEM about US. Love you girl and keep up the great work!! bring on the rants! :)