Today we set off to our usual Wednesday appointments, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Alyssa was looking extra precious in her new outfit I found on sale (still so excited about the purchase) and as always she was in the best mood. Being that we go every Wednesday at the same time we typically see the same families. Today was different. As we walked in we saw a new family and almost immediately we hear, “What’s wrong with her?” The child was laughing and asking the parent this question over and over again. I almost exploded.
Alyssa wears AFOs to her appointments, these help support her ankles and feet as she cannot due to paralysis. Little cakes was born with Spina Bifida; therefore, she has no controlled movement/feeling in her legs. She also has an colostomy, which most days there is no true way to hide it in her clothing that would be comfortable for her. Needless to say, his question was sparked by his curiosity I’m sure.
Kudos to the parent, I could feel his embarrassment as he quietly tried to tell the child that nothing was wrong with her, “but her feet look broken, are they broken, are those casts?” I get it, most adults stare occasionally, so expecting a 1o year old to be a little less harsh was probably unrealistic. But parents I’m asking one favor.
STOP ANSWERING THAT QUESTION.
I know they are asking, I know this is your opportunity to educate and show that you are trying to obliterate the stigma of special needs, but correct the question. Don’t try to answer in a kind way and sugar coat every little word because I know that you know I’m officially eaves dropping to see how you handle the situation. I mean it is my child. But take this situation and tell them that because someone is born differently it is not WRONG, it is just that, different. “Are you asking why she wears something different than you?” Nailed it!
Nothing is wrong with our kids, I understand the question, I appreciate the answers people are starting to give, but stop answering, start correcting the way they handle their curiosity.