Teaching Kids to Accept and Respect Children with Special Needs

It often takes a tragedy to open up our eyes to see that people struggle every day and it often goes unnoticed until it is too late. That is what happened to a young 10 year old boy with autism who suffered burns on his body, because he was different. That young boy was targeted by the same people who he thought were his friends, because he was raised not to judge people based on their differences. The skill of empathy and understanding of other’s differences is a learned skill and it is up to the parents to teach

Disabilities cover a wide range and come in all different shapes and sizes. With schools and other childhood social activities pushing towards the inclusive modality, your child will at some point encounter a child with disabilities.  Just as you guided your very young child when he or she began to befriend others, you can encourage your child to learn about and be a friend to children who have disabilities.

Parents who model and teach the following skills to their children can go a long way in teaching their children to be empathetic of others.

5 Ways To Teach Children How To Accept Kids With Special Needs:

  • The understanding that no two people are the same and that is a good thing. Accepting the uniqueness of the individual and also celebrating the differences can open your child up to a world of happiness.
  • Teaching your child that a disability is not who the person is and there are many cool and fun attributes that they have. All kids have to do is find them through play and friendship.
  • Children with disabilities are like all children in that they want friends, respect and to be included.
  • Do not be afraid of children with disabilities. They make look different, but once you get to know them, they are the same child looking for fun and joy.
  • Read books or watch YouTube videos about children with special needs and discuss them after with your children. Having an open dialogue with your children will make all the difference.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your children about difficult topics. Children need the love and support that their parents can give them and at the same time need parents to be there for them. Let’s be proactive in handling these conversations before we need to have a harder one about the next tragedy.


NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Social Work

Brett Siegel

Brett Siegel

Brett Siegel received his Bachelor and Masters degrees in Social Work at The University of Kansas and Loyola University Chicago respectively. While completing his Master's degree, Brett's field practicum took place at Rainbow Hospice, providing therapy for children working through the grief process followed by an internship year at Lutheran General Hospital providing diagnosis and psychotherapy on the mental health adolescent unit. While attaining his LCSW certification, Brett moved to Bloomington, Illinois where he served as a crisis therapist for children and their families. Brett joins North Shore Pediatric Therapy with a plethora of experiences that have served to foster professional growth and development. He has worked extensively in the areas of case management and clinical/therapeutic interventions with children, adults, families and groups. His professional interests include, but are not limited to pediatric and adolescent mental health, the bullying epidemic and the impact of divorce on children and their families.

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