Dear fellow parent,
I understand what it’s like to be in the park and others wonder why you are sticking so close to your child, perhaps guiding them or supporting them to do what other children much younger are doing easily. I know what it’s like to see parents and children stare at your child, laugh at them or worse…walk away from them.
People would understand if your child looked different, if you were pushing them in a wheelchair or if they had a walking frame. I see your child’s disability even when they don’t look disabled.
I have a child just like that too.
It’s the expectations isn’t it. They look fine so why are they not talking like others expect, acting age appropriate or joining in with others? The assumption that ‘looking fine’ means they are ‘fine’ and that we are the issue not the child. Oh do I understand that!
Our parenting is questioned just because our child doesn’t ‘look disabled ’ whatever ‘looking disabled’ is even meant to mean? People think we are over protective, over bearing and causing the problem. Yet they don’t know what we know. They don’t see what we see.
They can’t see autism so they don’t know it’s there.
They can’t see global delay or learning difficulties so they must not exist.
They were not there when you received the genetic diagnosis so they don’t know.
They haven’t experienced the epileptic seizures so therefore you must have made them up.
They don’t know anything about the myriad of specialists you have visited or the volume of appointments your diary is full of.
They see your child and make assumptions based on the fact they look ‘normal.’
You dare not mention that your child receives disability money. You know from experience that you will be accused of using your child to get money.
Why? Just because your child doesn’t ‘look disabled’ so therefore according to society they can’t be disabled.
You see I have a child like that too. I get the sideways looks when I hold my almost ten year old tight as we walk. I hear the sniggers as he flaps and makes baby noises as we walk down the supermarket aisle. I know the judgement at the school gate when my child is the different one yet he looks just like any other child.
For some reason disability is meant to be noticeable or else it must not exist. People have this strange notion that if something can’t be seen then it must not be believed.
I know how that makes you feel because I feel it too.
We should not need to justify our child disability just because they don’t look disabled as people expect. It shouldn’t matter what someone looks like and people are so quick to judge.
So know you are not alone.
Know that I understand.
I am right there with you.
You do what you need to do for your child and know I support you.
Together we can raise our beautiful disabled children who don’t look disabled and hopefully one day others will understand too.
A mum of a stunning but very disabled little boy.
This blog originally appeared here