Special needs

Special-needs parenting: Using humour to educate others

Sometimes laughter is the best medicine when trying to explain the world of special needs parenting to others.

Syona-special-needs When it comes to discussing Syona's special needs, Anchel Krishna prefers using humour.

The world of special needs parenting can be serious—like super serious. I think it’s partially due to the fact that, as parents, we need to understand complicated terms like periventricular leukomalacia. (I’m only half kidding—we spend a lot of time filling out forms that require us to detail complicated medical information).

So every once in a while we—gasp!—crack a joke relating to our "special needs life."

This past weekend, Syona said she wanted to walk to get a Q-Tip. So I told her I’d get her special braces and we’d walk together to get her precious Q-Tip. She quickly pulled me back down to the couch and clarified—she wanted me to walk to get the Q-Tip while holding her—that was her definition of walking to get something. We both had a good laugh about that.

There are times where life is difficult, and we receive more stares than the average family. I’m sure, at times, it's because Syona is so incredibly cute (bias alert!), but more often than not it’s because my little pipsqueak is trying to take steps in her yellow walker or wheel around in her pint-sized wheelchair. It’s an unusual sight, and people often stare.

We laugh a lot in our house, but I’d never considered using humour as a means to help others feel comfortable about my child’s needs. Perhaps it's because, in the past, some of my slightly darker jokes have been met with an awkward silence or odd stares. Or maybe I'm just not all that funny.

So when I clicked the link for this video about disability sensitivity training, I didn’t expect to spend four minutes laughing and learning. Before having Syona I was definitely uncomfortable with "how to act" around people with disabilities. There was a lack of awareness, exposure and no proactive effort on my part in terms of seeking out information. The truth is, the answer for how to act around people with disabilities is pretty simple and is outlined in the video: “Go forth and be… human.”


We often get caught up in the seriousness of our lives: Our child’s needs, our family’s problems, or our careers. I don’t mean to downplay their significance, but what if we just took a lighthearted approach when it comes to our concerns sometimes? Do you think we’d spend more time laughing out loud or putting things into perspective? Would it help "normalize" special needs for those who aren’t as familiar with our world? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I’ll be trying to use more humour going forward.

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy. Read all of Anchel’s Special-needs parenting posts and follow her on Twitter @AnchelK.

This article was originally published on Oct 15, 2014

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