Having a challenged kid in Egypt is a challenge in itself. Dealing with people is difficult because when it comes to this issue in particular, we lack knowledge and education. People tend to hide their challenged kids because they don’t know otherwise. They don’t know how to deal with them or with the people around them.
People might have good intentions when throwing these comments casually, but actually they are really hurtful. Here are some common statements every parent with a challenged kid hears:
1- “My child also talked late, he started talking when he was 3”
This person usually wants to make you feel that you’re not alone but actually it’s condescending. It makes me feel like I am making a big deal out of my child’s disability and that the person in front of me doesn’t understand what I’m going through.
2- “But she doesn’t show any features on her face… or maybe her eyes are a little weird!!”
This sentence is so wrong. First of all, not all disabilities show on the face, and what’s wrong with her eyes?
3- “Don’t tell anyone about her disability or else her siblings won’t get married”
First of all, my daughter is not something to be ashamed of and her siblings should know that. I should not hide her, her brothers and sisters are her support system and I will raise them like that. Second of all, marriage is a matter of fate, and whoever marries my daughter will love and take care of her. Shame on you to say such a thing!
4- “If you just toughen up and stop pampering her, she’ll get better”
Whether she gets better or not depends on what kind of disability she has. My child spends half her day in therapy, so yes I will pamper her and shower her with love. Please don’t make me feel like it’s my fault. A disabled child is not a spoilt child who needs tough love.
5- “I know how you feel, my cousin had a disabled child who died last year and it was a blessing.. you never know what’s best for you”
What? Who said anything about death? Why would you say such a thing? So now you’re wishing for my child to die cause she’s such a burden. I am speechless to such a comment.
6-“Thank God, it could’ve been worse”
This is the most common one. Yes it could’ve been worse, but does that make it okay that my child can’t walk or talk, hold a pen, go to a normal school or eat properly. This comment makes me feel like I am ungrateful. You are literally telling me that I am a drama queen and I should get over it.
7- “She’s a test from God, that you will pass”
My daughter is not a curse , I don’t want to pass. I want to live with her and enjoy her presence. My daughter is a blessing, she is happiness.
8- “There’s this place my friend’s cousin told me about, they will let her talk in a month”
There is no such place, speech is the most difficult step in all therapies and whoever tells you otherwise is lying.
9- “Can she go out and travel and play?”
She is a human being. So yes, she should go out and travel and have fun. People treat disabled kids like they are aliens or some sort of weird species. They are exactly like us but face more challenges than we do.
10- “God will compensate you with a better child”
This is the worst, you make me feel like my child is an unfortunate event and I need compensation for it. My child is an angel, she compensates me for any pain I had in my life.
My advice to anyone who deals with a parent of a challenged kid is to educate yourself. Learn how to ask questions and how to make them feel better about their life, without showing too much sympathy. Learn about their child’s disability, it’s okay to ask questions politely and show your interest in helping out. Just understand that with a challenged kid it’s an ongoing battle of getting over an endless series of challenges that they face everyday. So let your presence be the fresh air they come out to breathe, not the dark room they fear to enter cause they don’t know what will be thrown at them.
I am Rola Moemen, a mother of a challenged kid and a chemistry teacher in Manor House School the British section. I have a passion for teaching, even though I graduated from faculty of pharmacy, I started working as a teacher as soon as I graduated. I started my blog and Facebook page Mother of a Challenged Kid to share my experience with having a challenged child in Egypt, in attempt to spread awareness about this issue and encourage other parents to share their story so we can all learn from each other.