Before I had children of my own I genuinely thought parents pretty much stuck together. I mean after all aren’t we all in the same situation struggling with lack of sleep, worrying for our children’s future and tidying up toys every day?
Then I had a disabled child and I discovered that somehow that changes things.
Other parents no longer talk to me about standing on Lego because they assume I won’t relate since my child can’t play with Lego.
Other parents don’t mention all the activities their child does after school and how they feel like a glorified taxi driver taking their kids to dance, swimming and karate. They know my child isn’t able to do these things so they don’t bother to share about them with me.
Other parents don’t message me for advice even if my child is older than theirs because they assume I won’t know anything about normal child development since my child is disabled.
I could go on. I’m sure you get the point though.
There is an assumption by other parents and society in general that my disabled child is somehow not really a child like other people’s. They assume my parenting is nothing like theirs.
So let me tell you something very important: disabled children are still children.
They still have toys.
They still watch TV.
They still try and get away with more time on technology than they should.
They still turn their nose up at sprouts, throw toys in frustration and demand all our time.
They also outgrow clothes and shoes quickly, lose teeth at the same time as other children, go to school and learn, hate homework and catch the cold like other kids.
Yes every single child is unique, every life is different and my child struggles to do many many things other children do naturally (like speaking for example) but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear about your parenting issues nor does it mean I won’t relate.
You might be surprised to know we actually have more in common than you realise.
I have a disabled child. That may mean some parts of parenting are a little different to others but at the core my son is just a child like any other and I am a parent like other parents too.
Please treat me like any other parent. Please see my disabled child as a child just like yours.
We are all in this together and we have much more in common than we both realise.
Oh and my son may not play with Lego but I can still appreciate how sore it is to stand on. You have my sympathy there.