A few weeks ago the kid and I were walking into the grocery store and this woman stared us down. At first I thought she was trying to figure out our relationship. The kid is a tall, Mexican/White teen and I’m a short, Black woman. Then I realized she was staring at the kid the hardest. He had on his headphones and was scripting. We walked into the store only to receive more stares from people in the aisles. One was so busy watching us they nearly ran into the tower of oranges!
I use to let the stares bother me. After a while I began to meet a person’s gaze, smile (usually), and say hello. One person was bold enough to ask what was wrong with him. I replied “nothing” and kept walking.
As a caregiver and/or parent, it’s important to protect and defend our kids but, not lose our minds in doing so. Here are a few things I’ve learned on how to keep my cool and defend the kid at the same time.
- Grow Thick Skin
- People are going to stare. Ignore them. Maybe they’ll run into the oranges!
- If someone’s bold enough to question you, keep a few comebacks in mind
- If asked “what’s wrong with her?” reply “Huh?” with a quizzical look on your face.
- Engage the person in conversation and ask them to donate to an disability and/or special education organization
- Remember that you’re AWESOME.
- Taking care of a child who is differently-abled can be tough at times. But, you do it with class, care, and a whole lot of coffee (or wine).
Krysten Cooper is an Administrative Coordinator at a day program for adults with Developmental Disabilities and a caregiver. She's been working in the disability field for over 10 years. In addition, she provides virtual administrative assistance to families of children with disabilities. She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated and she blogs at www.KrystenCooper.org. Krysten resides in the Los Angeles area and you can find her tweets at @krystenc06.