I still want to keep the talk up about my previous post regarding autism and bullying. I’ll visit the topic again soon, as a matter of fact.
Today however, I was inspired to talk about something I know many of us have dealt with and others have written about as well --- that is the insensitive, uninformed (I was going to say “ignorant”, but I won’t say “ignorant”, because “ignorant” would be too harsh --- I mean, you can say “ignorant” if you choose, and that’s you --- fine by me, it is a fine word and all; I just choose not to use the word “ignorant” as a personal preference) things people say to us when it comes to our autistic kids.
A little while ago I touched on this issue and would like to go into it a little more. I’ve compiled a little list that I have either heard, vetted from the Internet or that we have had said directly to us. When I’ve seen/heard responses to many of these comments, the retorts from the affected families are sometimes snappy and often sarcastic. Usually the implication is “this is what I would have/wish I could have said.”
So I’m going to add another approach.
I’d first like to suggest some serious, non-biting responses, to insensitive (or even dumb), and sometimes just plain old “uninformed” things you may hear. Since it’s far more fun, however, to use those snippy-snappy replies, I’ve included somewhat more “creative” responses, too, just in case that’s how you roll:
The Comment: “Well, in today’s day and age, that’s the behavior you have to expect when you don’t spank your kids.”
Suggested Response: “We’ve actually tried nearly every form of discipline anyone has ever thought up to control his behaviors. We’ve learned through trial and error, and trying to figure out what’s causing the melt-downs, that these are not behaviors of a ‘kid being bad’. He’s hypersensitive.”
What I’d Like to Say: “Thanks for the advice, Professor. Why don’t I leave him with you for a week (or even a day) and we’ll see if you can knock the autism out of him.”
The Comment: “That’s the behavior of an abused child acting out.”
Suggested Response: “And to think, yesterday, some lady told me I don’t spank him enough. While abuse can happen in homes of special needs children (as it can in any home, I guess), I take him to so many therapies and doctor appointments, I assure you I would not want to add the need for another clinic visit.”
What I’d Like to Say: “And to think, yesterday, some lady told me I don’t spank him enough. Seriously, please call DCF, or the Police or any other agency --- and ask them if they could please bring a behaviorist or Personal Care Attendant with them. I’m having a hell of a time getting the State and my insurance to pay for them.”
The Comment: “Well then, why can’t you just control your child? Can’t you just make her stop?”
Suggested Response: “I wish!”
What I’d Like to Say: “I wish!”
The Comment: “If he’s talking, are you sure he has autism?”
Suggested Response: “Autism is a spectrum disorder. That means it comes in as many flavors as there are persons afflicted with it. Some kids talk, some do not.”
What I’d Like to Say: “Talking? Lady, all he’s doing is quoting every line from the new Blues Clues DVD we just bought. Incessantly. Loudly. And to answer your question: Yeah, I’m pretty sure he has autism.”
The Comment: “Well, remember that God never gives you more than you can handle.”
Suggested Response: No suggestion. I think walking away is your best answer to this one. However, if you must respond…
What I’d Like to Say: “Bi... --- I mean ma’am, at this point, unless you'd like me to show you what I really can handle, I’m going to have to ask you to please remove yourself to your automobile and leave the area quickly.”
The Comment: “Some kids are late bloomers. There are lots of cases where kids don’t talk at four years old.”
Suggested Response: “Ma’am, my child has been tested and re-tested. His hearing has been checked and he has a speech therapist. While I appreciate that you are trying to reassure me, we have been working on this for two years now.”
What I’d Like to Say: “Do those same kids continually hand-flap, chew their sleeves, babble uncontrollably, melt down in a kiddie playground, beat on the windows and purposely injure themselves on a daily basis, too?”
The Comment: “Autism, huh? So that means he’s a genius like Rainman.”
Suggested Response: “While savants do exist, they make up approximately 1% of all people diagnosed with autism. Nope, he’s just a regular little boy.”
What I’d Like to Say: “Potato Chips in your shopping cart, huh? Bet your cholesterol is through the freaking roof.”
The Comment: “He doesn’t look disabled.”
Suggested Response: “He is.”
What I’d Like to Say: “Would you like me to hang a ‘handicapped’ sign around his neck and push him in a wheelchair? Up until you opened your mouth, you didn’t look ignorant.”
The Comment: “If it helps any, I have a friend at work that has an autistic nephew. So I understand what you’re going through."
Suggested Response: “I sincerely appreciate that you are trying to relate to me. I don’t say this to be rude, but you honestly do not understand at all what my family is going through.”
What I’d Like to Say: “Great! Then that means you have experience. I’ll expect you at my house tonight at 8 to babysit.”
The Comment: “‘Famous Celebrity A’ says that you should try ‘XYZ’ diet/therapy.”
Suggested Response: “Thanks for the suggestion.”
What I’d Like to Say: “‘Famous Celebrity A’ has unlimited time, money and resources to try any and every snake oil diet/therapy that comes back in Google results. Unfortunately our insurance will only cover certain things, if anything at all. If you can give me some money, your time, and a team of nannies, I’ll try whatever you suggest.”
The Comment: “Gosh, I don’t know how you do it.”
Suggested Response: “It’s all we’ve ever known, so it’s typical for us.”
What I’d Like to Say: Nothing funny about this. The Suggested Response says it best.
The Comment: “Aren’t you just using his autism as an excuse for his behavior?”
Suggested Response: “Actually, his behavior is a symptom of his autism. He has not control over it.”
What I’d Like to Say: “If it will get this conversation over with sooner, then the answer is ‘Yes’.”
The Comment: “Honestly, how hard could raising him really be?”
What I’d Like to Say: “You can take him for the day, if you’d like to know.”
Suggested Response: “Not as hard as it is for him to have to live with it.”
Autism and the ER–finally.
4 days ago