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Special Kids and Tough Critics

Moms and dads often get criticized when their child acts less than angelic in public. "But parents with special-needs kids have an especially hard timeā€”no one seems to recognize they're doing the best they can," says Lori Evans, Ph.D., director of psychology training at the New York University Child Study Center.

It's important to handle outsiders' comments with aplomb, since you're your child's role model. Some in-the-moment ideas:

Respond calmly. Evans suggests saying, "I appreciate your input, but I'm taking care of the situation."

Don't overexplain. "You don't have to say, 'She has ADHD.'" says Evans. Muster a small smile, and say, "We're having one of those days."

Turn the situation around. Point out that the criticism isn't helping with something like "If you could hold the door open so we can get out of here, that'd be great."