Posted: May 29, 2013 9:00 AM
 
I've been guilty of secretly judging other parents for the way their child acts, but when faced with questions about my own kid, I realized that not all disabilities and developmental delays are obvious to outsiders. So, before you approach another parent with unsolicited advice about their child that is "a little off," find out why I won't apologize for my child.

Developmental delays, autism and other developmental disabilities

According to healthychildren.org Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) affect an estimated 1 out of every 88 children, while a study by the Centers of Disease Control found that 1 in 6 children had a developmental disability. However, as common as these conditions may appear, the characteristics and mannerisms of these conditions aren't always understandable by kids and other adults around your youngster.

Letting others know about your child's condition

How are you to deal with other parents who pipe in with unsolicited advice simply because they don't understand the challenges your child faces?

Medical conditions such as developmental delays, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and many Autism Spectrum Disorders are often saddled with social challenges. But, how are you to deal with other parents who pipe in with unsolicited advice simply because they don't understand the challenges your child faces? "Letting others know about your child's developmental delay may open the doors for support and greater compassion about what the parent is going through having a child with a developmental disability," offers child development expert and family therapist Elaine Fogel Schneider, Ph.D. "It is best not to bury your head in the sand, but rather explain as much as is comfortable at the time to bring forth greater understanding, acceptance and support."

Knowing how much to share

Do not include everyone and their dog in the information about your child

But, just because your kiddo may benefit by giving an explanation about his developmental delay, ADD, autism or more, doesn't mean you need to shout it from the mountain tops. "Do not include everyone and their dog in the information about your child!" warns Julie Michaels, dreamwithjulie.com. "When everyone then holds your child as developmentally disabled, they will potentially treat them as such with prejudice. Your child doesn't need anyone else adding to the mix of what they might feel frustrated, or already not great about themselves!" In situations where you have the feeling that over-sharing may put your child in an unfavorable light, simply standing up for your child when faced with unsolicited advice with a, "Thanks, I've got this," or "You should see me when I'm grumpy!" should give others the message that their words of wisdom aren't appreciated or needed.

Whether you choose to share the details about your child's developmental delay or opt to deal with unsolicited advice with a simple buzz off, knowing your child's strengths and abilities is the main reason why you shouldn't have to apologize for your child. So, muster up all the patience in the world before you head out with your child into it — you may need a little extra fortitude when dealing with other parents, good intentioned or not.

Read more about parenting children with special needs

Learn to advocate for your child with special needs
Educating children about Down syndrome
Travel tips for parents of children with special needs

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