There’s no question that every person deserves respect, but sometimes those around us forget that. In some cases, it may be best to remain silent and walk away when somebody neglects to respect you or your child with special needs, but when you do feel the need to say something, it’s important to have in mind the right thing to say.

Depending on the comment and the situation, there are various approaches that you can take in defending yourself or your child. The list of comebacks below can help prepare you or your child to respond to hurtful comments in a productive way.

Encourage the perpetrator to reflect

If you can challenge the perpetrator to reflect on the situation, hopefully he/she will reach the conclusion that what was said was wrong. This will help defuse the situation without becoming too confrontational. Sometimes people just forget to think before they speak, so perhaps if you give them a second chance to think they will realize themselves that what they said was hurtful.


  • “Excuse me?”
  • “Can you repeat what you just said?”
  • “Did you mean to say that hurtful comment?”
  • “You’re kidding, right?”

Question the perpetrator’s comment

Special needs can be confusing to those who do not know much about them. Sometimes people (usually children) accidentally ask disrespectful questions simply because they do not understand the implications of their questions and are just curious. This does not make it excusable and they should know that their behavior is disrespectful, but you can allow them to explain themselves or perhaps fail at explaining themselves by inquiring about why they are asking you for this information.


  • “Why do you want to know?”
  • “Why do you think my needs are your business?”
  • “Are you only asking me this question to hurt me?”

Tell the perpetrator just how wrong they are

Sometimes it becomes clear that those who treat you with disrespect are incapable of realizing on their own that their comments are completely unacceptable. In these cases, defending your integrity and right to be respected is necessary in order to teach those around you a lesson that they have clearly been late to learn.


  • “Saying things like that will not get you very far in life.”
  • “I’m sorry that my (or my child’s) permanent disability has caused you a temporary inconvenience.”
  • “I may not be able to control my (or my child’s) disability but you should definitely be able to control your mouth.”
  • “It’s unfortunate that nobody ever taught you to be a respectful person.”

The best thing you can do for your child with special needs is set them up with as many tools and strategies as possible for when these circumstances arise. Hopefully you can keep this list of comeback lines and explanations in mind and pass them on to your child in order to help remind those around you that everyone deserves respect.