Telling others about your child's disability

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Brothers and sisters

As a parent, you can decide best how much information you should give your other children about your child’s disability. Much depends on their age, their level of understanding and their curiosity. Do not be afraid to involve your children as soon as possible. It is okay to show them you are hurting if that is the case – they may see this already. Tell them in an honest and open way. They may not understand or remember all the information, so keep listening and answer their questions. Follow your children’s lead in deciding what else to tell them. You may want to say things such as:

  • It's not your fault that your brother/sister has a disability
  • It just happened by chance.
  • Children with a disability may find it harder to learn new things. They will want to join in and do the things you like doing but they might take longer learning how do to it and they may not be good at it.
  • You can't catch a disability.
  • Its very important to have brothers and sisters.
  • We love you very much and we love your brother/sister too.

Your children will follow your lead. If you treat disability as just one aspect of your child's life, their brothers and sisters will too.

Other people

Telling family and friends about your child’s disability can be very hard. Only you know when and how it is best to tell other people. Here are some points to keep in mind.

  • Sometimes you will need to tell close friends or family so you have someone to cry with.
  • Sometimes it is easier to tell the most gossipy of your friends and ask them to pass the information around so that people know before they talk to you.
  • Other times it is best to wait until you have come to terms with the news yourself and are able to cope with the other person’s reaction. Only you can decide how much of your child’s story to tell someone and which words to use.
  • Sometimes family, friends and people you meet say hurtful things. Try to ignore these comments. They are often based on misunderstandings.
  • People will follow your lead. If you are open, honest and positive about your child’s condition they will be too.
  • You may find you are very sensitive to people you meet when you are out and about. You may not be sure if other people know your child has a disability. You can choose whether or not to mention it.

Click here to download this information in a printable leaflet. 

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Page Details:
Author: Adapted with kind permission from an article written by Down Syndrome Association UK, approved by Informing Families Information Working Group
Date Created 1 October 2009, Reviewed April 2015



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