How to Handle Discrimination Against Disabled Children

By Eliza Martinez
Your disabled child deserves to be treated respectfully and to have a happy life.
Your disabled child deserves to be treated respectfully and to have a happy life.

Having a disabled child presents many parenting challenges. You want your child to have access to goods and services just like any other child, but sometimes his special needs get in the way of equal treatment. This can be hard for parents, but it's also difficult for a child to feel discriminated against for his differences. Dealing with discrimination can help others treat your child in a kind way and accept him as they would any child. It also ensures he's getting the help he needs at school.

Research discrimination laws. A clear understanding of your disabled child's rights makes it easy to see if you have cause for legal action to preserve his rights and prevent discrimination. Read the federal, state and local laws, so you know exactly what your son is entitled to where you live and attend school.

Listen to your child's complaints. Maybe she's being mistreated by kids and staff at school, or she can't eat lunch in the lunchroom because there isn't a wheelchair ramp to get there. Perhaps she isn't able to ride the bus on school field trips because she can't get her wheelchair up the stairs. Whatever the issue, listen carefully as your child explains it. With all the appropriate information, you can take action on your child's behalf to keep discrimination at bay.

Ask your child's school for adjustments to accommodate his disability. If he's in a wheelchair, his school building should have ramps and elevators so he can get around. If he has a learning disability, he may be entitled to special classes, an aide or modified assignments. If your child's school can reasonably make these adjustments, you have a right -- under federal law -- to ask them to do so.

Answer questions or offer explanations in public. If people stare at your child when you're in public, tell people about your child's disability in a friendly way. People may not realize what the issue is and are simply curious. If your child is verbal, let her talk about her disability so other people can see she's still a person and still prefers not to be gawked at.

Take legal action. If issues of discrimination aren't resolved, you may have grounds for a legal suit against your child's school, a restaurant, or other place that won't accommodate your child's special needs. If his school refuses to make changes or a restaurant turns you away because of your child's disability, you have the right to take legal action. Contact a lawyer to discuss your options.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.