(1) OFFER KNOWLEDGE: Most unhelpful comments are made because people are misinformed about your child’s disability.
(2) BE INFORMED: Providing positive, informed answers to real questions from real people will encourage awareness.
(3) BE PREPARED: Develop and practice a set of standard responses that can be used in different circumstances.
(4) HAVE AN ESCAPE PLAN: Create some sort of signal (text, code, gesture, expression) to alert your support line, partner, or friend when you need to escape a particularly difficult situation.
(5) JUST IGNORE IT: Intentionally hurtful comments simply don’t deserve a response; and sometimes a deliberate change of topic will send the best message.
(6) LAUGH IT OFF: Use humor to defuse situations if you can. Laughter can be a gentle and effective way to point out differing points of view.
(7) ACCEPT IMPERFECTION: Some people have neither the capacity nor the compassion for tolerance and understanding. Accept that there will be times when you will be surprised, hurt, and even offended by harsh or ignorant reactions… let it go!
(8) BE ASSERTIVE: Trust that you will always make the best decisions for your child, simply because you will always be focused on the best interests of your child.
(9) BE PATIENT: Put things into perspective. Everyone is guilty of speaking without thinking at some point in their lives.
(10) BE HONEST: A quiet, honest explanation about how and why a comment may have hurt your feelings is usually the best preventative medicine, especially when you’re talking to someone you feel comfortable with.
(11) EDUCATE THE KIDS: Children often say whatever is on their mind. Their honest and open questions can be a good opportunity to help educate everyone in the vicinity about your child’s disability.
(12) FOCUS ON PERCEPTION, NOT OPINION: Use every opportunity to create an informed, aware support system for your child by changing the perceptions of the people in your community through what you say and how you say it.
(13) RELAX. Try to stay calm. Negative emotional responses only increase the negative stigma and stereotype, not the awareness.