Sadly I can't take the credit for this fab post, written by a Father living in America with two disabled daughters. Great sentiment though.
10 Things I Wish People Would Never Say to a Parent with a Disabled Child
No, it's not a mistake. All ten items are blank. It's not that I don't find things offensive when people make comments about my disabled daughter. I just happen to believe my daughter is more important than that. My hurt feelings will heal. My daughter won't.
When it comes to those outside our immediate family, the most important thing I can do for my daughter is to educate; educate people about her, educate people about her condition, educate people about the awesome purpose and value of the disabled. Unfortunately, I can't do that if I'm shutting them out because I'm offended at whatever they said.
I'm surprised they even say anything to us at all. One parent gets offended because they referred to their child as handicapped instead of disabled. Another gets offended because they referred to their child as disabled instead of handicapped. Heaven forbid they should come from a generation that knows no other term for the condition they call retarded!
Wow, I just said it, the R-word so go ahead and let the hate mail begin and, while you're spewing hate, I'll smile as if it doesn't hurt when anyone refers to my child as retarded. Why? Because befriending those in ignorance is a better cure for their ignorance than humiliating them. It opens the door to them being receptive instead of defensive when I share with them a better term.
Getting offended makes it all about me while pretending it's about my child. That's not parenting. Parenting means putting my child's needs ahead of my feelings. As long as their purpose is not to mock or harm my child I will welcome anything they say because that opens the door for the most important thing I mentioned above, educate, educate, educate.
When people are afraid of innocently saying the wrong thing they will simply say nothing and that, my friends, spells e-x-c-l-u-s-i-o-n, the very thing we are trying to prevent. It's time we in the disability community stop making things worse and start sharing some of the tolerance and compassion we demand from others.
The choice is yours. You can fill in those 10 blanks with whatever offends you the most and, in the process, feel hurt and angry, or you can fill them in with loving ways to respond when people say things that hurt.
Roy L. Ellis