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I had a mom at swim lessons ask me this question after her boys were discussing my sons at home. To be honest, at first I was confused when she asked what she should say about my boys. I thought maybe they had been rude to her kids! No, her boys were just curious. She said that she had told them that it's just who my boys are and God makes every one of us unique(they are a religious family, obviously), but she wanted to see if I had a different way of explaining it. I felt that this was a fine approach, not demeaning in any way and one that her kids could understand.
I also explained to her our beleifs, which is that everyone does not need to be the same, we are all who we are and just fine as we are. No one needs to be fixed, pitied or have excuses made for them. To our family, it is as simple as some people have different color eyes and hair, differing talents and interests, varying skills and abilities. We are all here on this life's journey and every life is as full and rich as we choose to make it. Just because it is not the life that you have, does not make it less of an existence. Happiness is found in so many ways.
The mom who asked the question should not draw attention to any differences unless her kids ask. Otherwise it's making an issue out of something they may not have even thought about. If they seem uncomfortable around the child, she can ask at home what they were thinking and go from there. Don't assume it's about the "disability", it could be as simple as "he's sitting too close to me" something lots of kids do.
Good Luck!

What a great topic! I can't wait to read what everyone has to say.

Well, Casey wears hearing aides and most kids don't know what they are. They are usually pretty straight forward, "What are those things on his ears?" I tell them they are hearing aides and they help him hear better. These are almost always strangers. The kids that know him, never really say anything or treat him any differently. The thing I am noticing now that he's three and kids that don't know each other often play together at the playground or in the play area at our favorite restaurant is that most kids don't play with him. I don't know if this is because he's different or just because he's passive. I notice kids take things out of his hands more than other kids who are more assertive. I don't know if that is because of his personality or if it might be because of his hearing aides. He also may not be able to hear the other kids in the noisy environment when they first talk to him, so they ignore him. Adults don't usually say anything unless I know them, then they ask how we knew he couldn't hear well. Sometimes they ask how it has affected his speech or learning. I don't really mind the questions. No one has really said or done anything that has offended me. I often talk about my son to my students at school, when it fits the context of the lesson.

I think what everyone has said above is really good. If the other kids don't ask don't feel the need to say anything. Children with disability are not hidden at home anymore so our kids are use to seeing people who are different from them. They may not even ask. My daughter goes to a integrated preschool class. She doesn't even blink and eye when we see someone who is "different" she just plays with them like she would play with any other kid.
If they do ask just explain as best as you can in kids language. Same as the ladies above said.
Also, I think it is important that as kids with disabilities get older they learn to advocate for themselves and answer those question in a way that make them comfortable and proud of who they are.

Glad to hear you're all on the mend Christy. A house full of flu is NOT fun and being sick during pregnancy is the pits. Sending healthy vibes your way xo

What a great question Mary Elizabeth!! I think my number one piece of advice would be - Never 'SHUSH!' children who ask questions. It's normal for other kids to be curious if they see a child with a walking frame/sticks/wheelchair/hearing aides or whatever if they haven't seen them before. If a parent 'shushes' them when they ask a question, that sends a message that YES this is something to worry about. This child is different. Totally agree with Jessica, answers in simple language are best - eg 'That's just to help him walk'. 'His muscles aren't as strong as yours' etc etc. Once the kids get used to something, I think they're very accepting.

As for mothers talking to mothers, I actually think that is a trickier area. I personally hate it when people overcompensate by gushing over something my son dies. It can be very patronising when they say things like 'Oh wow. Isn't he amazing?' when all he's done is join in (in his own way) with doing the hokey pokey or something. They are hardly about to say that about any other child, and it irks me a lot. I think it's important adults to treat my son as much as possible like the other kids. If I am around mums/other adults that I am likely to see quite a bit of, I try to preempt any awkward questions/silences etc by giving a basic rundown on my son's diagnosis and what it means. I think once they know the basic facts, most people feel more comfortable and empowered enough to see the child instead of the disability.


OMG, what a typo above!! Of course it should read my son 'does' (not 'dies') - eeek. A definite reminder to proofread before hitting 'post'!

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