Thursday, April 12, 2012

Oh, The Things People Say…

Just read the Autism Island blog entry, “50 things you SHOULD NOT say to autism parents”. LOVED IT!!  It really hit close to home. I hear the most insensitive things all the time from well-meaning (??) people and sometimes I just don’t feel like launching into “A day in my life”.  A few gems that stand out…

  •  “Have him play with my child…he’ll learn how to talk!”—oh, you mean I don’t have to pay $100 an hour for speech therapy?
  • “You’re lucky he can’t talk. My kid talks all the time!”—that’s a problem I wish I had with Ryan.
  • “All people have autism if you look at the symptoms.”—really?? No, not REALLY!!
  • “I know exactly what you’re going through. My cousin’s friend has a child with autism. It’s sad.”—yeah, that’s right…you know. EXACTLY.
  • “Maybe he’ll outgrow it.”—yeah, sure.
  • “At least he doesn’t have cancer.”—well, yes, thankfully…
  • “Do you get Social Security payments for that?”—as if!
  • “Do you think vaccines caused it?”—I don’t know, but it doesn’t really matter now, does it?
And my personal favorite:
  • “Well, a prenatal blood test indicated my child could have had Down Syndrome” (she didn’t), “and that’s so much worse than autism.”—just wrong on so many levels!
 What is so interesting about telling someone you have a child with autism is how often it becomes about THEM in some way—it almost becomes a “Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon” with autism serving as the connection to themselves…maybe they know someone with an autistic child, or saw something on the nightly news, or even worse, “Rainman”, but they “get autism”. I realize people don’t always know what to say, but it surprises me they think it makes me feel any better when they tell me how their typical kid (or better yet, Einstein) didn’t talk until age 3 or 4, sometimes walks on her toes, potty trained late, etc…as if this means Ryan is simply a “late bloomer” who doesn’t have autism at all. 

There is just so much misinformation out there and I often wonder why people who know us can’t take a few minutes to Google “autism” and learn a little about it and try to understand our circumstances.  But people are busy so I’ve resigned myself to being a one-woman autism education crew.  

The next time I tell a new acquaintance I have an autistic child, I will be hoping for just a simple, “How is he doing?” That would make my day.

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