Talking to Kids About Children With Disabilities
Mom's Message After Overhearing a Parent at Chick-Fil-A Talk About Her Boy With Disabilities
"To the mom of three at Chick-Fil-A: I sensed your panic when your five year old son pointed at my son in his wheelchair...Posted by Love What Matters on Friday, May 5, 2017
After a potentially painful and uncomfortable encounter, Leah Carroll has a message to the mom-of-three who was at Chick-fil-A with her three kids. Leah wants this fellow parent to know that she overheard the questions, saw the stares, and was blown away by her response.
"I sensed your panic when your 5-year-old son pointed at my son in his wheelchair and shouted, 'Mom look at THAT boy!'' Leah shared on Love What Matters Facebook page. "You leaned forward and quietly told him and his 3-year-old brother that we don't say things like that and they shouldn't point or stare."
Leah waited because she knew in most cases, telling a child not to stare or question her child's differences doesn't work because young, curious minds have questions that they want answered. "When you realized your whispers weren't working I saw the panic disappear and you took a deep breath and took a step of courage," she wrote. "You brought your boys over to Malachi and said 'I bet he would like to know your names!'"
Leah explained that as they said their names to Malachi, her child started grinning and chatting with the kids and that this interaction was more important than this amazing mom could've realized.
The joy on his face brought tears to my eyes- he loves kids his age but so many are fearful to come and speak to him. Your boys continued to ask questions about his foot braces, his wheelchair, why his legs don't work, why he holds his mouth open like that.
You took the time to educate your sons in that moment and help them understand that different is okay. Different is not something to fear. And that it was okay to ask questions! Thank you for giving my son a chance to meet your kids.
Thank you for being the type of mom who educates your children instead of frantically trying to silence them. Special needs moms have to develop tough skin — we get used to stares, comments, and whispers. Please know it takes a lot to offend us, particularly when the comments are coming from young children. Give your kids the same grace we give them and use the opportunity to teach them about differences.
So Chick-Fil-A mom, thank you for raising your children to embrace children like Malachi. And thank you for giving my son something to smile about."