Community Forum icon


The best place to talk with other special needs families, get advice and support, buy and sell products and get followers for your campaign.

Should I ‘shut up’?

Kerry-Ann Fender

Joined: 2015-06-26 Posts: 21

Am I right to speak out directly when (usually elderly) family members refer to my son as ‘a down’s’, or say ‘oh, he doesn’t understand’, or refer to people with learning disabilities as ‘mentally defective’? Or should I just ‘shut up and stop being so salty all the time’ for the sake of family harmony?

27 April 2017 11:11 AM # 1


Joined: 2014-10-10 Posts: 270

I struggle with this too - again it’s usually with grandparents (who should really know at this stage) or older people.

I think you have to assess each situation as it comes - I often wonder do older people choose not to listen or purposely use language in a way to annoy or offend just to get a rise.  If this the case its a losing battle really isn’t it.

I had a situation recently where I was really annoyed with myself that I didn’t challenge someone on their use of language - which was really offensive. It still plays on my mind. Also a guy I know said he was thinking of setting up a fitness class at his gym for ‘down’s kids’ - I did suggest that if he was going to do that he might need to rethink his language - this was definitely a case of lack of awareness.

As an aside it makes me chuckle when my lovely mother in law refers to kids with autism as ‘those artistic children.’

02 May 2017 01:28 AM # 2

Healing Heart

Joined: 2014-10-10 Posts: 676

“Being Salty” I like that expression… perhaps I’m not salty enough sometimes!  HA.

Family is a touch thing - especially with different generations as the perception of children with special needs has significantly changed throughout the years.  It would still get on my nerves though and I don’t think long term I could let it slide.  Since they are family I’d be delicate and nice about it, but I would still attempt to politely correct.


Everyday Holds the Possibility of a Miracle

12 June 2017 01:40 PM # 3

J Shenal

Joined: 2016-04-07 Posts: 23

You absolutely have the right to speak up.  It can be so difficult with family, though.  I’ve had to address family members before…especially when they’d say that my child “didn’t understand” something. I’ve explained many times that just because she’s nonverbal doesn’t mean she can’t hear and understand everything going on around her.

17 June 2017 12:18 AM # 4


Joined: 2017-06-16 Posts: 1

Hi, it is difficult with family, but you have to think of your son long-term. He shouldn’t have to encounter this kind of language inside his own family and its better to start educating your family members now or he will have to endure it for his whole life.  I do feel for your situation and especially how exhausting and drained we as special needs parents regularly feel and it can feel like a fight for another day, it is so important to teach your son to stand up against this kind of ignorance, because it is no doubt not said with any malicious intent by your family, but other people do use those terms negatively. Whether your son can in time stand up for himself or you will have to stand up for him, he needs the confidence from seeing you explain to people what is, and is not acceptable around your beautiful precious son. Good luck xx

Register to Post a Reply