Please Don't Give Handouts to My Disabled Child

This is a really hard topic to write about because I'm sure it will cause some controversy, but it's something that I've felt very strongly about the last several weeks, and I think it's something that should be discussed. 



On Halloween we were trick-or-treating and a parent recognized Kinsley from our school and was telling Derek and I how sweet Kinsley was. We thanked her, and then she went on to tell Kinsley several more times how cute she was and gave her three huge handfuls of candy, and kept dishing it on thick... right in front of Kyle, who she said nothing to, and didn't give him any extra candy.

So she taught my one child that she can have extra of things because she's cute, while also completely ignoring my other child and I'm sure creating some sort of mental complex in that regard as well. 

A few weeks later I saw an advertisement on Instagram that a local museum was giving people in wheelchairs free admission. There was something about that though that just didn't sit right with me. 

I feel like people giving my child things because she's cute and has a disability, and letting her into places for free just because she has a wheelchair is creating a since of entitlement that I'm really uncomfortable with. I don't want my daughter to grow up and expect that she can have things, simply because she has a disability. 

I want her to grow up with the same mindset as everyone else that she has to work hard in order have the things she wants. 

The other side to this coin is that I realize we just went to "The North Pole" with Delta airlines for free where my kids got to go on an airplane, meet Santa, get a toy from Santa's workshop, and have a really amazing and elaborate once in a lifetime experience, that they wouldn't have gotten had Kinsley not had a disability. 

I feel like the difference here is that everyone had a disability. Everyone was getting the same once in a lifetime opportunity, and I recognize that there is a very real reality that these kids don't get to do all the same things as normal children do. So to be able to bring all these kids together for an amazing event like this is something that I'm okay with, especially since we're not doing these grandiose adventures every week... or hardly ever.

The difference is that Kinsley will have many Halloweens filled with trick-or-treating. She will have many opportunities to go to local museums. These are everyday experiences that she participates in just like every other child, and because of that, she should be treated just like every other child. 

Please don't shower my child with extras or handouts from a place of pity. My child doesn't need your pity. She has a rich, full, and amazing life, and deserves to be treated the same as any other child, without creating a false sense of entitlement because of her disability. 

This isn't to say that you shouldn't do nice things for people with disabilities, but that can look like so many other things. Smile at them. Say hello to them. Be their friend. Open a door for them. Help them with a task they can't complete independently. If you want to do something for someone with a disability, these are all great places to start. 

I'd love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic, both as an able-bodied individual, or someone with a disability, or someone who is a care taker for someone who has a disability. I'd love to know what your thoughts are on this topic in the comments below!

4 comments

  1. I think this is where, as a parent, it’s up to you to explain to your kids that they’re not always going to be showered with extras, and that they still need to work for what they want in life. And it’s fine to talk to close family and friends and set expectations about not spoiling a child just because they’re disabled. But strangers honestly just don’t always know any better, and are simply trying to be nice. And if a museum or anywhere else wants to do something nice and offer free admission to disabled patrons, more power to them... just my opinion.

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  2. This is me. As an able bodied person, with a child who has no disabilities, but who worked with people with disabilities and has an aspie husband, coming to give my agreement. The whole point of my job when I was first married was to help those with disabilities of all kinds be able to better care for themselves in public and as a general human. We helped where needed but they never got any special treatment because they were different from us or their peers. They were required to do chores and work just like everyone else. They had to pay for their own things like everyone else. My husband has aspbergers, but no one ever realizes because his parents treated him no differently than they did their other Kids. They knew something was different (he was diagnosed when he was older) but they pushed him to be the best he could. Does he have his moments? Absolutely. But I think a lot of how well he functions in public and around others is because he was treated the same. I’ve also heard from all the people they worked with that all they wanted was to be treated as an equal and like a normal person. So. Long story short, I completely agree. I think handouts are a complete disservice to those differently abled. They just want to be like everyone else.

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  3. Well kinsley is darn cute. I have seen her on Instagram stories and she has the cutest smile. If I saw her I probably would be that mom who would shower her with attention. I wouldn't be able to help it. She's just so stinkin cute.

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  4. I myself, do not have a child with disabilities, but I can relate, I have one child that seems to stand out from the rest of my children. This child gets most, if not all the attention when we go out, but this child definitely has a much more engaging personality which tends to draw complete strangers in.

    My other children, however, are much more timid and introverted and find this attention not only intimidating but uncomfortable. This extra attention use to really irritate me, but I’ve come to realize this child’s ability to engage and interact with pretty much everyone is a gift and not a detriment to themself or their siblings. The siblings know and anticipate the extra attention this child receives and they really do not envy it, but I’ve seen how they have learned from it, it has provided them countless opportunities to learn from this child how to interact with and be more comfortable with different people and look for the kind intentions in everyone vs fearing them.

    Having close relationships with disabled people, it has always struck me as odd that most people tend to completely ignore and avoid them because they don’t know how to react to them, it is human nature to avoid or fear what we don’t understand.

    Kinsley is very fortunate to be an exception to this type of treatment. She is not only beautiful, but she has a drawing and engaging effect on people, this is a gift. She is a wonderful reminder to many to not fear disabled people and hopefully treat all of them with a little more respect.

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