What... (i.e. camp, dance class, birthday party)
Pick a NYMetroParents Region: All Regions   Manhattan    Brooklyn    Queens    Westchester    Rockland   Fairfield    Nassau    Suffolk  




     Home  >  Articles  > Advice & News
by Courtesy of The Child Mind Institute in Manhattan

Related: how to, tips, child, kids, special needs, disability, talk about,

It took a lot of courage for Michaela Searfoorce to talk to her son's fourth grade class about an incident she feared would lead to hurtful teasing, but she was thrilled by the "help, support, and kindness" in the kids' responses. Talking to a whole class without the child present may not always be the best strategy to protect a particular child, but it's good for all the children to be given a chance to learn more about kids with "differences" and have a chance to develop empathy, notes Susan Schwartz, director of the Child Mind Institute's Learning and Diagnostics Center.

Here are a few tips on talking to children about psychiatric, developmental, and learning disorders that will do everyone good.


Tips on how to talk to kids about your child with special needs and disabilities. Invite questions. Searfoorce did well to let the children ask questions, so she could gauge what information they were ready to hear.

Let them air misconceptions. Listening to them is an important opportunity to correct any misinformation that they may share.

Enlist curiosity. Getting a chance to talk about behavior that seems odd or mysterious to them may defuse awkwardness.

Be comfortable. Let them know in your tone that you aren't embarrassed by talking about a child's unusual behavior or limitations, and they don't need to be either.

Trust them. Let them know that you have confidence in them as people and trust them to be fair.

Don't sugar-coat things. A simple, straightforward, honest response to a question will prompt more empathy and cooperation.

But don't overshare. Searfoorce answered a lot of questions but each answer was brief. She didn't overwhelm the children with more information or emotion than they could absorb.

Consider getting an ally. While Searfoorce seems to have handled this situation admirably, some parents might be more comfortable asking a teacher, counselor, or school psychologist to talk to the class about their child. The professional could also simply discuss generic information so as not to single out a specific student.

Be developmentally appropriate. First graders can be very tolerant of personal hardships and differences, while eighth graders have a strong desire to conform. Know your audience.

Educate early. One of the best ways to support your child is to push for increased education concerning developmental, psychiatric, and learning disorders in general. Wouldn't it have been great, notes Schwartz, if the kids in Searfoorce's son's class had already had a series of short introductions to the variety of differences people can have before her son's accident?


Courtesy of The Child Mind Institute in Manhattan. Susan J. Schwartz, MAEd, director of the organization's Learning and Diagnostics Center, has been on the forefront of interdisciplinary approaches to evaluating and treating those with reading, writing, math, and organizational difficulties, as well as nonverbal learning disorders. She is also a significant public voice on learning accommodations and special education services in our schools. Visit www.childmind.org for more of her expert advice.



Give yourself a free Holiday Gift

Receive our weekly highlights newsletter · Over 1,000 local activities

More Advice & News Articles

The Importance of Social Connection for Those with ASD
What to do When Family Doesn't Believe Your Child's Diagnosis
What You Need to Know About the ABLE Act
How to Discuss Your Child's Diagnosis with Your Child
What to Do if Your Child Has Challenging Symptoms but No Official Diagnosis

Be a good fellow parent and share this with a friend who would be interested
Email Friend

Local Advice & News Sponsors

Red Rabbit Music
437 Bergen St
Park Slope, NY

Camp Half Moon for Boys and Girls
PO Box 188
Great Barrington, MA
Camp Half Moon is celebrating 92 amazing summers o...
Mandell School (The)
795 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY
Mandell School is a co-educational institution for...

Gaminride - Long Island
105 Hoover Place
Centerport, NY
Long Island's Best Video Game Party! Gamin' Ride i...
New Canaan Pediatric Dentistry
65 Locust Ave
New Canaan, CT
See Our Advice & News Directory

local zones


Nassau cont.


Suffolk cont.


Westchester cont.



Rockland cont.


Queens cont.


Brooklyn cont.


Copyright 2015 NY Metro Parents Magazine Site Design: THE VOICE