Deciding on evaluation

Will Kids Treat My Child Differently If She Gets Services?

By Whitney Hollins

I want my child to get the help she needs. But I’m also concerned that the kids at school will start treating her differently. What should I do?

Whitney Hollins

Adjunct Instructor, Hunter College

Social relationships are a big part of school. It makes sense that you’re concerned about how your child’s friends and classmates will react if she starts to receive extra help in school. The good news is there are things you can do to prepare your child and smooth the transition.

Practice answering kids’ questions. Help your child prepare answers for the questions her friends and classmates are likely to ask her. For example, if your child gets pulled out of her general education class for part of the day so she can get speech therapy, her classmates are likely to notice and ask her questions. Kids are curious. You can help your child anticipate the questions they’ll ask and practice her answers at home.

Prepare for a range of reactions. In my experience, children in elementary school are more curious about the extra help than anything else. But it’s a good idea to help your child develop some anti-teasing strategies. A sharply worded response can stop the teaser in his tracks.

Help your child understand her issues. The most important thing you can do is to make your child comfortable with her learning and attention issues. Talk with your child about learning differences. Make sure she understands that you and the school are working together to give her the support she needs to succeed. Allow her to voice her fears and concerns. Encourage her to talk about anything that happens at school and how it makes her feel.

Ultimately, getting your child the help she needs is more important than what other people think. Although some children’s reactions may be less than ideal, don’t let your concerns about that affect your decision about what’s best for your child. Teach her to stick up for herself and to talk to her friends about advocating for themselves, too. After all, every child has strengths and weaknesses, not just those who receive special education services.

About the Author

Portrait of Whitney Hollins

Whitney Hollins is a special education teacher and adjunct instructor at Hunter College.

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