Why I Won't Allow My Son to Use His Disability as an Excuse


No excuses for inappropriate behavior!
I don't let my kids use their disabilities as an excuse for their behavior. And I don't use their disabilities as an excuse, either.

If there's one thing that irks me it's hearing other parents, particularly autism parents, tell me their child did XYZ, "because of their autism."

Newsflash: having a disability doesn't give your child a free pass to misbehave. And while I'm all for explaining and providing a reason for a child's misbehavior and sometimes it is necessary to explain why their child may have done something out-of-the-ordinary, writing it off as an excuse for little Johnny's tantrum at the park? Not OK with me!

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Hey, I get it. I have kids with some significant behavioral issues and we've overcome quite a bit. We work very hard to behave appropriately in a variety of situations. We value the patience of friends and strangers. But allowing your kid to get out of doing something or get away with something because they are disabled? Totally not cool with me. Not disciplining them because of it? Totally not cool with me. Even disabled children need discipline, rules and guidance. Nothing worse than a bratty disabled kid, in my opinion.

I'm certainly not parent of the year (my eleven-year-old reminded me just the other day I'm the Worst Mommy Ever! SCORE!) but there's one thing I work very hard at and that's expecting my kids to be kids while helping them succeed in behaving in public. Sometimes we're successful! Sometimes we leave places early! But I never, EVER allow their autism or their sensory sensitivities or their hyperactivity as an excuse. We expect quiet in the library. We follow the rules at the pool and don't run. We wait our turn in line. And while I appreciate it when folks want to let us ahead of them I typically decline unless I'm desperate. They need to learn to wait patiently like everyone else. And we practice and practice and practice to get it right.

Case in point: We have a lovely young woman who is a friend of our family. She just started college and is doing great. She's independent, takes the train to and from the city by herself, is learning to drive and is paying for most of it on her own.

Guess what? She's disabled. She had several strokes by the time she was a toddler that cause one side of her body to be paralyzed. Years of procedures, botox injections and therapies make the right side of her body behave enough that she can walk, though with a limp. She cannot use her right arm at all. But the best part?

Her parents never allowed her to use it as an excuse to get out of anything.

She was treated like every other child. She was expected to carry her own bookbag, participate in gym class, go through the cafeteria line on her own. In other words, do what everyone else is expected to do. Plus keep her grades up, participate in school clubs and activities and do jobs around the house. She even walks the dogs. She's an honor student to boot.Her parents very easily could have excused her from a variety of everyday chores, school issues and the like. Instead she was taught to say, "Hey. I have a disability. SO WHAT?" and to persevere and move on. Has it been easy for her?  HECK NO. Has she worked hard and become a fabulous role model? Indeed she has.

I know it's easy to allow our kids to get a free ride sometimes. Look, Special Parents, our kids have to work twice as hard to be half as successful sometimes. Stop enabling, start building independence and work to achieve success along side your child. You will thank yourself later. Or, go ahead and let them get away with everything and kick yourself later. Your choice.

Do you get irked when parents make poor excuses for their child's behavior?

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