Motherhood

How to Navigate a Special Needs Encounter

How to Navigate a Special Needs Encounter, by Amy Webb

As the mom of a child with a disability, there are four things I wish everyone knew…


It was during our routine 18-week ultrasound that we found out our second daughter would be disabled.

At the time, hearing the doctor tell us that all of her limbs were “deformed, misshapen and in some cases missing bones altogether” was a gut punch that knocked the wind out of us. I literally couldn’t breathe as I sobbed with my face buried in my hands.

It’s strange to look back at that ultrasound appointment now and realize how differently I view the entire situation. Yes, my daughter’s limbs are quite different — thus the common term used to describe her disability as having “limb differences.” Her left arm stops above the elbow — a short round nub. Her right arm is a little longer, but still short with no elbow and a small, atypical hand. Her legs are also both shorter, and different lengths at that, but she does have two feet, which she uses for most fine motor skills like writing and assembling lego spaceships. Yes, the doctor was correct about her limbs, but other than that, he didn’t tell us a damn thing!

Ultrasound machines are not “future predicting machines.” If that ultrasound had been really accurate our appointment might have gone something like this:

Doctor: “Looks like your daughter has a wicked sense of humor, an incredibly compassionate heart and if I’m seeing things correctly it looks like she’ll be born with extra awesome, as well. Congrats. It looks like you’ve got a helluva kid joining your family.”

Us: “Well, what about the limb differences, Doc? Should we be worried?”

Doctor, chuckles: “Compared to everything else she’s got going on, small potatoes, guys. Like I said, you guys are lucky. I just had to deliver an ‘asshole’ diagnosis the other day and it was devastating.”

Luckily, it didn’t take long for us to realize that there was nothing tragic about our daughter or her disability. She was a sweet baby and grew into one of the kindest and most polite toddlers I’ve ever known — in fact one of her first words was “thank you.” She is still extremely tenderhearted to this day, but also has a wicked sense of humor because, you know, balance. As we’ve spent the past eight years being her parents, we’ve also become her advocates. It wasn’t too long ago that we used to see disability as inherently negative, sad and undesirable. And because we viewed disability through a negative filter we were also used to couching our interactions around disability with pity. It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I really understood what pity was and how harmful it could be.

The line between pity and empathy is razor thin. My general rule to differentiate between the two is that empathy stems from listening to another person’s perspective and reacting accordingly. Pity, however, assumes. Assuming that a person with a disability automatically has a harder, sadder life because of their disability. Yes, people with disabilities get down on their lives and their bodies, just like we all do (hair, skin, acne, weight) but there is a big difference between listening to a person’s frustrations and then empathizing, “I’m so sorry to hear you’re having a bad hair day — that sucks!” vs. ASSUMING you know someone’s feelings and then commenting or teaching other people how to make those assumptions — “Wow, your hair looks awful today, you must really feel self conscious. You are so brave for going out in public like that.”

Nowadays I see disability with so much color, variance and possibility. Disability is just another way to exist in this world, and it is not inherently wrong, sad or undesirable. It just IS.

Over the past eight years, we’ve navigated a lot of interactions between our daughter and other children she meets for the first time. Having a very visible disability — and an awesome pink wheelchair, beep, beep! — means that she never flies under the radar. I’ve seen many children stare and point at her in disbelief, some grabbing at her arms and some vocalizing their concerns. “MOM! What happened to that girl’s arm?” And likewise, I’ve seen many parents and caretakers at a loss for how to navigate what they view as an embarrassing situation. It may seem like the best idea is to leave. Immediately. And many of them do, while shushing their children because it seems like the polite thing to do. I’m sure I would have once done the same thing. But now I know better, and when you know better you do better. Therefore, I’d like to suggest an alternative: Stay.

I’ve developed a formula for navigating these conversations with young children, and I’d like to share the four steps with you, below:

1) Don’t Walk Away + Questions Are Okay

The emotions that a child feels when seeing another child with special needs can range from curious, to nervous, to just plain confused. Let your child know that questions are okay. For example, if your child points at my daughter and says, “What happened to her arm?!” my suggestion would be to get down on your child’s level and explain that some people are born differently than other people. I then often refer to other differences, like hair color, skin color, glasses, etc. It may help to reference friends or relatives who have a wheelchair, walker, etc. Invite your child to introduce him or herself to the other child. If the caregiver is nearby, you may want to reach out to them and say, “My child has some questions about your son/daughter, can you tell us a little about him/her?” Most parents I know are happy to share what makes their kiddo unique.

Leaving the situation can unintentionally reinforce an “other” mentality, suggesting to our kids that a person with a disability is not someone we interact or play with. Staying and having a conversation can instead build bridges of friendship. Because we don’t view disability as negative, because we are not ashamed of our daughter’s differences, we can talk about them openly.

2) Reinforce Kindness

While it’s important not to shame kids for their curiosity, it’s also very important to let children know in no uncertain terms that certain things are NOT okay. It’s not okay to point, stare, laugh, call names or use rude words. Even if your child does this innocently — “She looks weird!” — please correct them. For example, “That’s not a nice word, and that might hurt her feelings” or “She’s has different arms than yours, but she’s not weird.”

3) Find common ground

Once your child has some understanding that some people are different, now is a great time to find some common ground: “I bet she likes a lot of the same toys/games/food that you like.” You can then ask the child or the child’s caregiver what they like to do. Establishing sameness is KEY. This is when the light goes on and children realize, “Oh, she’s just another kid, like me. We are more alike than different!”

4) Emphasize strengths

I try to emphasize that my daughter has strengths and abilities, too. Yes, there are some things she can’t do, like walk, but, “Wow, she can drive a wheelchair!” Or “Guess what? She can write with her feet!” It’s super important for kids to understand that everyone has something they’re good at.

You may not navigate this interaction perfectly, you might fumble for words or be at a loss, but most people will appreciate your effort and help you in the process. I’ve gone into many, many classrooms to teach children about disability — about my daughter — and I have seen their curiosity and hesitancy turn to acceptance and inclusion in a matter of minutes simply because we took the time to talk about it. In my experience, education doesn’t just make a difference, it makes ALL the difference when it comes to teaching our children about disability and fostering a community of inclusion.


Amy Webb

When Charley Met Emma book

Amy Webb writes the blog This Little Miggy Stayed Home about her family of five in Ohio. Her wonderful new children’s book, When Charley Met Emma, about a little boy who meets a girl with limb differences, came out this month.

P.S. How to talk to kids about sex, and 16 children’s books that foster acceptance.

(Bottom family photo by Momoko Fritz.)

  1. Zara says...

    I loved this article so much – so much heart, so much sense.

  2. Rosie says...

    Hi Amy, I just wanted to write to say a big thank you for this post and for your beautiful book!
    It recently arrived via post (we are in Australia) and it is my 2 year old daughter’s new favourite. We have read it at least 30 times already and I love it each time. X

  3. Thank you so much for encouraging empathy, and chipping away at the stigma and ableism that disabled people of all ages have to deal with every single day.

  4. candace ford says...

    As a retired teacher of what was termed “high needs, special education” students in a high school I encountered a lot of issues with administration, other teachers and “gen” ed students. There were times when I got right in the face of “typically” developed students and told them what they needed to know and how they needed to act. I also found comments about my amazing skills and patience to be able to do a job that they would never be able to handle by adults and other teachers to be even more offensive than kids’ comments. I have no special talents or traits, I simply found a job that I could do – that I really enjoyed – and I did it. While I love retirement I often miss those teaching days and I certainly miss those amazing students!

  5. this piece had me cry twice. thank you so much Amy for writing this and sharing your beautiful daffodil with the jo community

    • Cynthia says...

      Beautifully written! I also like to say to kids that’s are curious about my son, “thank you for asking!” after I answer their question about his difference. I do this because I want them to know that asking questions is ok. I also add some other characteristic about him; I want them to realize that his condition doesn’t define him. There is so much more to him than just the physical appearance and I want to show them to look past that. Our kids teach us so much about humanity. I have learned so much throughout this journey of motherhood.

  6. Vicki says...

    What a beautiful little girl, and a blessed one at that, to have such an articulate and insightful mom.
    Great article.

  7. KC says...

    This is a great post! We can apply these words to so many different situations and encounters with our littles. Teaching sameness is one step closer to kindness and unity. We can all use that!

  8. This is really admirable. I love your concept. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Kasey says...

    This post — and some of the comments — have me teary-eyed. I am so impressed by this mother’s wisdom, humor, and grace. “In a world where you can be anything, be KIND!”

  10. Kelly says...

    This is just everything and as a new mom, I thank you so much. I only hope my son has the opportunity to meet someone as special as your daughter. I would love to meet you too! You’re a wonderful mom.

  11. Anna says...

    Thank you for sharing this insight!

  12. Yes a million times over to this post!! Brilliant description of empathy and pity. Really interesting timing for me personally as I recently captured a story of a little boy interacting with my younger sister. Who – like your darling daughter – uses a wheelchair and often can’t fly under the radar.
    Your 4 step formula captures perfectly how this little guy so naturally approached us.

    “Open letter to the Little Boy who said hello to my Sister….
    Kimber was chowing down on her Whole Foods Market pizza in the cafeteria style seating when you walked up to us. It isn’t rare for kids to be curious about Kimber – perhaps her loud shrieks, her wheelchair, or her omission of verbal words? I don’t mind kids visibly taking her into their minds – searching to understand and watching her interact with the world in a way that perhaps they haven’t seen before.

    It IS rare however to have a young child approach with the confidence as you did and start up a conversation.

    “…does she have a Helper at school?” you asked. “She does!” I smiled. “It’s called a para – have you heard of that?”
    “I’ve heard of a Helper” you replied. “There’s a kid in my class who has a Helper. She helps him with writing”, you said as your hand naturally made a writing motion.

    I shared that Kimber has lots of Helpers – at school, and after school and at home. That I’m her sister, and today, I’m her Helper (as I spooned another bite of peaches into her mouth). You innocently asked, “Where’s her mom?” lol Vacation! A much needed (and always deserved) sunshine getaway with her hubby. (Hi mom & dad 💛)

    You told us your name is Hudson, and I prompted Kimber to say hello. Her main mode of greeting is a low-five, so you turned your hand upward and held it out as an invitation. Kimber looked you right in the eye – smiled –and said “Hiiii yoouuuu”, while she slid her left hand onto yours. Though she let her hand linger a bit, you stood steady, stole a glance at me, then turned back to Kimber & exclaimed, “I’m good! How are you!?”

    So small, 1 interaction in the course of hundreds in a day. But I’ll be darned if thinking of this sweet exchange doesn’t bring tears to my eyes.

    We talked about Kimber’s favorite song and you got excited to see if she would sing Happy Birthday. You & I sang, but instead of singing or humming, Kimber decided to grind her teeth along with the beat. (Typical – and a talent in its own right 😜)

    You noticed her Talk Device on the table and eagerly looked to see the different things she could say. We showed you “happy birthday”, “party hat”, “blue” and then Kimber took the initiative to show off her favorite animal noises. She went to the farm page and pressed, “cheep cheep moo moo moo cow moo moo baa” & your eyes lit up.

    Hudson, thank you so much for noticing. Thank you for initiating a hello.
    Thank you for being so warmly curious.
    You see, there are many people who don’t see Kimber. Or, perhaps they simply don’t want to unpack who they might find?

    But you were brave Hudson. (You ARE brave)
    You were kind. (Your ARE kind)
    You were curious.
    You did not treat her as “other”.
    You treated her as your friend.

    And holy cow – FRIENDSHIP – what an incredible gift.
    You made our day by sharing your joy with us.

    As you, your mom, and your sister grabbed your cart and headed out, Kimber voiced her signature “Baaiii (bye) loud and clear with a huge smile…while I choked back tears and tried to convey the mountain of gratitude to your mom.

    Hudson – you are without a doubt going to change the world…you already are!!

    We are grateful to you!
    We are grateful to your parents for raising you so kind!
    Grateful to your experience of inclusion in your classroom!
    And so, so grateful for the happenstance meeting at a random Whole Foods table on a spring break Thursday.”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      This is so beautiful. Weeping right now reading this. There is good in the world — all three of you xoxoxo

    • This is the best. I too am teary eyed. That was such a beautiful story, thanks for sharing.

    • Chriselle says...

      Tears…But mostly happy ones..

    • Crying over here in Rhode Island as well! so unbelievably beautiful

  13. Alice says...

    Thank you so much!

  14. Callie says...

    I’m so thankful for this article and your willingness to share your experience. I want to help my kids see the similarities, not the differences, in people and this is a great jumping off point. Thank you so much. I now feel better equipped should these types of situations arise.

  15. Emily says...

    Teared up reading this. It is such an important message at a time when we could ALL work on finding a common ground and seeing the strengths in the differences each of us possess.

  16. Eva says...

    This is so beautiful. I especially appreciate the doctor’s conversation, hypothetically:) Our daughter’s disability was discovered at her 20wk ultrasound and all we received as bad news, and a suggestion to prepare for the worst. She is so so so much more than her physical deformity (which has since been “fixed”). So much love to this family! Being brave, accepting change and allowing yourself to move from ME to YOU is what this world needs. xo

  17. Kadija says...

    Thank you for posting, this is super helpful!

  18. AbbieMirand says...

    @Candace-
    Oh! I think your baby is going to have a beautiful life! I can’t remember where I saw his interview, but it was a question posed to a group of deaf young adults and they were asked if they could magically wake up one day and hear, would they choose that life. All of them said no! They were curious to see what it would be like, but they didn’t want to give up the intimacy and unique perspectives of their own lives and deaf community. It made me smile, maybe we are the ones missing out!

  19. Claudia says...

    Thank you for writing this. As an elementary teacher and mom of a 4 year old, I feel this is a topic that should be widely discussed and shared among kids and their families. We teachers do our best to foster this kind of empathetic environment in our classrooms, but it really needs to begin and be reinforced at home.

  20. Jasna Michalak says...

    Fantastic – thank you, this is really helpful. I have a six-year-old daughter and have been trying to answer such questions when we see a person with a disability, so I am really grateful for the guidance and ideas.

  21. Thank you for introducing me to Miggy and her family. I am loving her IG posts. Dance away!

  22. I work at an NYC-based nonprofit that creates custom assistive technology out of cardboard for kids with disabilities and this is spot-on. Will be sharing it with our team, parents, teachers, therapists, and community volunteers!

  23. Sammie says...

    Love this so much! What helpful ways we can all be better at inclusivity:)

  24. Jenna says...

    Thank you so much for sharing this – such helpful, important suggestions for people of ALL ages.

  25. Carrie says...

    Thanks for this post, I loved it both as a mother and as an educator. I’m planning on using the writer’s perspective in my Disabilities Studies class.

  26. Roxana says...

    Thank you a million times over!

    Amy/Miggy, you are the best! We found out that our youngest son had Down syndrome shortly after birth. I was devastated. I cried for a few months as I grieved the person I thought he would/should be. God used your wisdom and grace and wit to really help set my mind right about so much of this.

    I agree with everything you say. And I might add, I wouldn’t change a single thing about Ezra or our family. He is exactly who he needs to be. We were the ones who needed to change. I used to think calling someone “slow” was an insult. . . Having Ezra has forced me to remove judgment from words that should never have had judgment attached to them in the first place. So much more I could say.

    I feel all gushy and weepy having just read this.

    Thank you for all you do. Thank you for how you represent the special needs community and for just being so freaking cool!

    Thank you CoJ for this beautiful post!

  27. I found this post really helpful for navigating future conversations with special needs kiddos. Thanks, Amy!

  28. Sam M Gelman says...

    Wonderful post. Brought tears to my eyes. So important to make our children aware and to teach them to be kind and welcoming of all.

  29. Jordan Carter says...

    Everyone should read this. I learned a lot. Looking forward to reading her blog!

  30. Y says...

    Thank you for this post. I believe children who are taught empathy at an early age are less fearful of differences as adults. My Dad had a stroke the year my daughter was born and by the time she could walk she was trying to push him in his wheelchair. He passed when she was 12, but now it has become instinctual for her to open a door or offer her help to any one she sees in a wheel chair. Witnessing his struggles daily taught her to see others. He would be so proud of her.

  31. Peg says...

    Thankyou for this, knowing that questions are good and yet also how to manage boundaries around what is said is so helpful. Actually this whole post was incredibly helpful. Thankyou so much.

  32. Susan Sokirko says...

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful piece and the valuable and practical insights it puts forth.

  33. Rebekah says...

    This is the best piece CofJ has ever run. Thank you.

  34. Beautifully written and so important. I work on social media and blog content with a group called the MTeam who advocate for inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through that work, I’ve gotten to know some incredible families who have kids with various special needs (and some super cool abilities) and there’s definitely not enough content like this out there in the world. Thank you!

  35. ALI says...

    Thank you this is so beautiful and practical and helpful!

  36. How beautiful and HELPFUL. Thank you for such a practical, kind, honest post. Talking to my kids makes me boil things down to their essence (very hard!), and I love how Amy did that in her four steps.

  37. Darla says...

    I had a baby a few months ago and I want to raise her to be the best human ever but I worry about my ability to do so because I am ignorant to so many things. Thank you for writing this post and making me slightly less ignorant than I was before reading it.

    • Sarah says...

      I could not have expressed my feelings any better than this. Thank you.

  38. Christina Baldwin says...

    Thank you so much for this beautifully written article. I am a parent of a child with special needs and just reading this validated so many of my own thoughts and feelings about the parenthood I never imagined. Thank you!

  39. LT says...

    Love this! Thank you so much! These are such important conversations to have with kids early, thank you for the tips!

  40. Katrina says...

    This is a fantastic post. I particularly enjoyed the bit about the doctor having to deliver the “asshole” diagnosis ;)

    On a more serious note, as a parent wanting to raise empathetic children who interact with their peers with kindness and acceptance this is a post I am saving to reference in the future as my baby grows up. Wonderful advice.

  41. Heather says...

    Your daughter is absolutely gorgeous! (that hair, that smile!) What a cutie! And you are a beautiful writer (and mama).

  42. Nicole says...

    Thank you for this article. I’m also the mother of a special needs child and I know firsthand what this experience is like . It’s definitely a journey and also an incredible gift. I look forward to reading more articles in the future! GO BUCKEYES 😀.

  43. Sofia says...

    This is such a lovely post. Your perspective on the difference between pity and empathy is spot on. Thank you for sharing your story!

  44. Thank you for this article. I remembered this from before, but it is so helpful to have direction for parents and for our children. Beautiful family <3

  45. Lesley says...

    This is so excellent. I work with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and your point about the difference between empathy and pity is spot-on. Thanks for this post!

  46. gundy girl says...

    Thank you for sharing this, you moved me to tears. Thank you for helping us know what the right thing is to do and say, you have a beautiful family and I wish you much joy and peace

  47. Ren says...

    Thank you for this – how beautiful and helpful for those of us who want to do the right thing but aren’t sure how – what a wonderful advocate you are for ALL people – much love xoxo

  48. Sam says...

    Thank you for sharing – it’s also important to not treat people with disabilities as heroes just for being who they are. As Amy discussed, having a disability isn’t inherently anything – including incredible. A narrative exists that people are brave and almost supernatural for just surviving their lives, but people with disabilities are just being themselves. It others people and borders pity lifting them on a pedestal for existing. This is such an important conversation – thank you!!

  49. Jennifer says...

    Thank you for sharing this piece. I appreciate the emphasis on empathy, as we could all use more. I have a son with behavioral special needs. Although he appears to be a typical 8 year old from the outside, we deal with rages, oppositional behaviors, OCD, and severe ADHD making outings and playdates difficult. I’m often looked at as the “bad mom” instead of a mom with a non-neuro typical son. Empathy and asking questions instead of assumptions can help us all.

    • Melanie says...

      Yes! My son looks “typical,” but has some pretty significant speech delays and impulsive/aggressive behaviors. We work on them A LOT, and it’s frustrating to be looked at as the bad parent(s). I still remember taking my two boys (age 3 and 5) out to eat. There was a lot of noncompliance and a lot of running around the small restaurant as I tried to get our belonging together and put a coat on younger brother. So much irritation and pity coming from the faces of other patrons. I would have loved a helping hand so I could wrangle my older son. I think a little understanding and grace for all goes a long way.

  50. f says...

    Love this! I hired a young man with a limb difference a few years ago. I honestly didn’t even notice his limbs though he mentioned that he had a disability at the interview, but he was still the best candidate. At first, some coworkers had questions and were curious, but after awhile, no one even noticed his limb difference and just appreciated his great work and lovely personality.

  51. My cousin is limb deficient and also happens to be a gifted athlete. He will likely compete in the next Para-Olympic games. His parents have created the largest adaptive sports competition on the west called Angel City Games. Please check it out! Its held at UCLA every June and is SO MUCH FUN to watch.

    http://angelcitysports.org/2019-angel-city-games

  52. Margaret says...

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m the kind of person who often felt awkward when meeting people with differences, and always seem to say the wrong thing. A few years ago I read a similar post on Amy’s blog and it helped me understand a better way to approach those meetings. So glad she’s written a children’s book! I have a two year old son and immediately bought this book so I can teach him what I should have known.

  53. Kirsten says...

    I love every post on your blog but this one was extra special. Thanks for having Amy share. Having a daughter with a limb difference every word rang true. I loved “education doesn’t just make a difference, it makes ALL the difference “, isn’t that true about everything.

    • Nyaira S says...

      My mom told me about this article/story and how it touched her in so many ways. After finding it and reading it myself it made me think of my younger brother who has a disability and it also showed me how I should be more aware of how to encounter situations similar to this. Thank You for sharing your story!

  54. Jenna C says...

    This is so beautiful and I’m saving it. I just listened to an episode of The Birth Hour podcast about a woman finding out at her delivery that her daughter had Down syndrome, the episode was SO GOOD and I love how it and this article reminds us to treat disabilities with dignity instead of fear.

    • Anabel C says...

      I just listened to that episode as well. Both so, very powerful.

  55. Nina says...

    I love this. I appreciate the insight.

    My son is never silent when he sees people who have different parts than him. I still remember when he was 3ish and a girl had a very cool (s shaped and bright blue) prosthetic leg and he was all (very loudly) “omg what happened to her leg Mom?” I was so embarrassed. But I figured I’d be hearing something like that again so I’d better address it in what I hoped was the right way. I said it looked like something had happened to her leg but her new very cool new leg helped her get around. I asked if he wanted to go talk to her about it. He didn’t but since then I’ve used the same type of thing. The other day he saw a child with a cochlear implant. And he was like “omg Mom that kid has a thing in his SKULL, what is it?” I explained that he probably couldn’t hear and so that helped him hear just like glasses help me see. And my son, who is now 11 and I’m sometimes amazed he doesn’t know things but we all have to learn sometimes, right?, said “that’s really cool. isn’t technology great the way it helps us?” I said yes and asked if he wanted to go talk to the child and he said no. I try not to be shouting my answers or whisper (cause that would make someone feel badly too) but just answer matter of factly. But it’s always nice to hear from a parent with experience. My son is kind of embarrassment…if he fell and lost a limb he would be more upset that people saw him fall then the loss of the limb.

    • Candace says...

      As a mama of a kiddo with a cochlear implant – that’s exactly the right response :) My 11 month old is still nearly bald, so his bionic “ears” are super duper noticeable. As we make our way out into the world more, I’m hoping the questions we get are kind and that people are open to learning. x

  56. Sarah O says...

    Great post, thanks!

  57. kathie says...

    Amazing post! This is so helpful. Thank you Amy and CupofJo!

  58. A says...

    This was a great read. I’m 27 and was born with a disability. Now when I talk about it the way I explain it to people is being born with a disability isn’t that hard, it’s how the world interacts with you that is the most challenging part.

    • Eloise says...

      A – EXACTLY!! I have CP and walk with a very pronounced limp. I commute to NYC and get “blessed” by others on a regular basis (wonder if they get reversed when I don’t smile and nod back?) so I didn’t think anything of it when a woman asked if she could pray for me, until she dropped to one knee and grabbed my leg – in the middle of the street during prime race to work time! Pray for me if you will/must, but touch/grab me?? No thank you.

    • A and Eloise–

      Yes! It’s not the disability, it’s societies collective reaction to disability that is the real hurdle.

      Also, the praying thing and strangers placing their hands on disabled bodies… MAKE IT STOP! Another woman I interviewed said that her wheelchair seemed to signal to the able world that it was OK to touch her and that she lacked the personal boundries the rest of us take for granted. I hate that.

  59. Camille says...

    Thank you Cup of Jo for this post !!
    Also what an amazing doctor <3

  60. Blythe says...

    We’re having our anatomy scan next week and this is exactly what I needed to read. I’m feeling a little anxiety about everything being “okay” but this was a lovely reminder that everything already is! Also adding Amy’s books to my baby registry!

    • Sophia says...

      At the 20 week anatomy scan of my twins the tech was having a hard time with one of the babies, pushing my stomach and shifting to get a better view. She called in a doctor and he tried as well. I starting to get freaked out so finally the doctor said “Because of her position, we can’t see Baby B’s feet. If there was something wrong with her feet, would you want to do anything about it? We can keep trying to see her feet if you would.” I thought “Would I? No. NO!” and told the doctor. My girls were born full term, strong, healthy and with normal feet but even 12 years later I still look at my daughter who was Baby B and think “I love you whether you have feet or not.”

  61. y.k. says...

    thank you thank you. this is helpful and loving.
    thank you.

  62. Elizabeth says...

    Very important and helpful story. Thank you for sharing.

  63. Kate says...

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve heard of a great group that empowers women and girls with physical differences that might be a good resource for community and mentorship for her as well: http://www.shelift.org/

  64. Sarah AuMiller says...

    Just, thank you, for this.

  65. kati says...

    What an exceptional little girl who is blessed with an outstanding Mom!! I bought the book immediately.

  66. Maria says...

    Absolutely love this – beautifully written and wonderful for any person to know and learn.

  67. Stephanie says...

    I just saw When Charley Met Emma on a kid lit blog and it’s already in my basket! One of my daughter’s grandmothers is in a wheelchair, so we’ve talked a lot about different abilities in our house – whenever she sees a wheelchair outside (we live in a city and see a lot), she always says “like grandma J!” – coupled with a big smile and wave. Thank you, Amy, for sharing your tips! There’s always common ground, especially for kids!

  68. Mara says...

    As always, I value and love that these subjects are broached here in such a wholesome way. These tips are wonderful and useful and I hope they’ve landed somewhere deep in my brain so that when I, or my children, inevitably encounter all kinds of differences in the world, we’ll know a little better how to meet that moment. Thanks to Amy for sharing with us!

  69. AbbieMirand says...

    Last Christmas my husband and I were flying to Italy with our 5 month old daughter. We were waiting at the airline counter to request a bassinet and met a deaf couple that were also flying to Italy with a small baby. I stuck around to help them translate a little bit ( the father could read lips but only understood French and I spoke enough to help them with any questions they had.) While we waited we started chatting and quickly started swapping stories about our daughters and our travel plans. They were such a sweet family! We added each other on instagram and kept up with them a bit throughout the trip.
    This article reminded me of how I felt about them- That their “disability” was the reason I stuck around in line and got to know them but in the end it was so irrelevant to who they were/ are. They were warm, adeventurous, funny and sweet. Their disability defined them, but only for about the first two minutes. My husband and I had so much fun talking with them, we decided we would like to start learning sign language! There’s a whole community of people we can’t wait to meet and sign with!
    Thank you for the beautiful article and highlighting all of the unexpected joy that comes with these opportunities.

    • Candace says...

      @AbbieMirand – this warms my heart. Our 11 month old son was born profoundly deaf and I am full of endless worries about what his world is going to be like when he is navigating it as he grows up. Here’s hoping he runs into more people like you in his adventures than the alternative. x (Also a million thumbs up for learning sign language!!)

    • Candace–Have you watched the Show “Switched at Birth?” It was an ABCFamily show, and a little on the cheesy, soap opera side (like in a delightfully guilty pleasure sort of way) but one of the main characters was deaf and much of the show centered on the deaf cultre and community. Many of the actors were deaf or hard of hearing, including Marlee Matlin, and it was just such a great education and peek inside the deaf community–and it really is a community!

  70. MM says...

    Gosh, this is so so good. You made me fall in love with this girl without ever meeting her!! I’m so glad this message will have a wide reach. The intro about the ultrasound is just brilliant and made me cry!

  71. Dana Barnum says...

    This is wonderful! I am a family entertainer and the mother of 5, one with autism. I am going into the schools this month to do a presentation for autism awareness. I will be sharing a book my very good friend, Jimmy Vee, wrote; “Same is Lame”! I will be buying your book as well and Sharing the title, as autism isnt any different than any other special need other than it’s not always visually recognizable (outside of behavior observation). I applaud you and embrace you! Thank you for extending the truth and bridging unnecessary gaps that should never exist!

  72. Rosa says...

    Looking for sameness…so powerful! Loved this. Thanks! I learned a lot

  73. Karine Majeau says...

    Thank you so much for this!

  74. Valerie says...

    Thank you so much for this. The practical examples of how to turn interactions around to be positive are great!

  75. Meghann says...

    What a wonderful mother!

  76. Irene says...

    This is so, so, so important. It takes so little to make all the difference.

  77. Eve says...

    Thanks for the tips. I cried reading this. I haven’t had to explain yet about my daughter’s almost missing ear (microtia) to anyone and I dread it but this gave me courage for when it happens.

  78. Ana says...

    Thank you for your perspective.

    Sometimes we can be the assholes thinking we’re doing the right thing …
    (says the shushing mom)

    May we all be able to look for sameness.

  79. L says...

    What a wonderful guide for kids of all ages. I learned so much. Thank you, Amy and Cup of Jo!

  80. Gina says...

    Thank you for this. As a mom of a special needs child this resonates.

  81. Lacey says...

    What a wonderful, helpful guide. Thank you very very much.

  82. Alicia says...

    This is so helpful. Also, I think my friend Momoko Fritz took that photo of Amy and her girls — does it have a credit?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Will add right now, thank you!