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Accepting Disability - When Others Don’t Accept Your Child’s Disability

Recognizing Disability Denial and What To Do About It


Updated September 25, 2011

Accepting a Child's Disability

Accepting Disability - When Others Deny Your Child's Disability

Few things are more frustrating than disagreements with others over your children. This can be especially true when others do not accept that your child has a disability. Learn how to recognize signs that others are not accepting your child's learning disability and what you can do about it.
  • Negative Comments - Others who do not believe your child has a disability may say things to you, your child, or about you to others that reveal their disbelief. For example, an in-law may criticize your parenting rather than acknowledge your child's hyperactivity. Insensitive teachers may accuse your child of being lazy rather than having an attention deficit.
  • Giving Bad Advice - When others do not fully understand your child's disability, they may offer advice (wanted or not) that is clearly off the mark. "Josh would be a better reader if you just make him read more."
  • Punishing and Not Teaching - Too many times, those who do not understand a child's disability will punish rather than teach. For example, a child with writing difficulty may be given extra writing assignments as a punishment for incomplete work rather than better writing instruction in the first place.
  • Unwillingness to Accommodate - Teachers and family members alike may refuse to change the way they interact with your child or what they expect of your child when they do not believe the child has a disability.
While dealing with someone who doesn't accept your child's disability is a difficult and frustrating experience for you and your child, there are some strategies that can help. Change can take time and persistence on your part.
  • Provide Information - Share information from resources such as this website, a school counselor, or your child's psychologist with people who doubt the disability. Hearing information from an outside authority may help them understand.
  • Learn Advocacy Skills - Learn to advocate for your child in school to change attitudes. Yes, it's a sad reality that not every teacher will accept children with disabilities or readily implement an IEP or a 504 plan. Fortunately, they're not the majority. Take this free course on advocacy to learn how to deal with uncooperative teachers.
  • Avoid Negative People - When possible, limit your and your child's interaction with negative people who persist in denying your child's disability. This might involve limiting contact with negative people and choosing more positive options. For example, talking with a counselor about scheduling positive, supportive teachers in advance will reduce the possibility of encountering a rigid, inflexible teacher.

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