“He doesn’t LOOK autistic.”
“Oh, that’s every kid though.”
“What he needs is some discipline.”
“You know how to get him to eat? Make him.”
“You baby him too much. You shouldn’t hold him when he’s upset or hurt. Tell him to shake it off.”
Almost a year into our diagnosis and I still have so much trouble dealing with people saying things like this to me. “Well, that’s every kid.” No.. its not. Yes your kid might cry when you tell them that they can’t have chicken nuggets and french fries because they want what they want when they want it. When I tell mine he can’t have it? He thinks I’m starving him because its the only thing he will eat that has some form of sustenance to it.
“He doesn’t LOOK autistic.” That’s because he’s autistic, which is a neural disorder not a physical one. He doesn’t have Downs, MD, or a physically VISIBLE handicap. There’s something different about the way his brain is wired. He doesn’t look a single way. Other than freaking adorable because he’s mine and he’s the most handsome kid on the planet. You can take that to the bank.
“What he needs is some discipline.” Let’s put our kids in a room together. I bet if you snap your fingers your kids will keep doing whatever it is you want them to stop doing. Mine? He will stop, apologize and ask if he can do something else (in his own form of garbled english that only a few of us understand.) Wanna know why? Because I discipline him and he knows right from wrong, but kids are kids and they will do what they do until that guiding hand steps in. My son knows when I snap my fingers and say his name, there’s no more warnings, and we don’t play the time out game. He might be special needs, but he doesn’t get special treatment in the discipline department. There’s also a difference between disobedience and misunderstanding or miscommunication. I know what’s what when it comes to my child. Unless you do, I encourage you to refrain from making such comments about how I raise my child.
“You know how to get him to eat? Make him.” Um… no. You know how you have an aversion for soggy tomatoes on your burger? Well that’s him about everything else. If it doesn’t feel right, taste right, crunch right, or if it touched other food on his plate, he won’t eat it. If its green its not happening. If its vegetables cut up to look like candy, its not happening. I’ve sat at the kitchen table for hours trying to force my child to eat something new, its torture for him, its punishment for me and his father. If he wants to try a new food he will, and it does happen on rare occasion and you know what we do? We shut up and keep eating like its normal. After he’s back in his room where he can’t see us? We do some of the most embarrassing happy dances known to man. (Much like we do on the days when he’s speaking in understandable english with complete sentences and everything.) The thing about autism is that every little bit of progress is worth a celebration.
“You baby him too much. You shouldn’t hold him when he’s upset or hurt. Tell him to shake it off.” I’m not coddling my child, I’m relishing a moment. If you knew how often my child didn’t want me to hold or touch him you’d want me to hold him too. He can get hurt and think that my touch is only going to hurt it more. I can’t always kiss his booboos. Sometimes I have to kiss the air above it and he’ll run off so that I can’t hug him. Am I spoiling him? No. I’m savoring a moment. When he says “Mommy hold you?” I’m usually dog tired and just want a break, but for him I will pick him up and hold him. Yes there are days when I tell him no because I’m learning the difference between rare moments and “I’m using this to my advantage.” Because I know my child, I know his father, and I know their evil plans to work against me. When he’s hurt? That’s a whole new ball game of its own. Do you know pain is different for those on the spectrum? While he can bang his head against the concrete and not even whine about a headache, he can get a paper cut and you would think he sawed his whole arm off. Pain registers differently in his brain. Telling him to shake it off doesn’t work. He doesn’t understand the metaphor. Shaking the hurt away doesn’t make sense. Him coming to me to help calm him down does because he knows that I will get him through it. I talk to him, tell him its not that bad, we breathe and when he’s calm, he realizes he’s fine. There’s a process, it doesn’t involve the person telling me I should let him shake it off, so keep those comments to yourself.
“She didn’t care about all this advocacy before.” You didn’t either. I didn’t even know what autism was until Braiden got diagnosed and then my entire world made more sense. From every meltdown to why he stopped eating, to his speech problems, all the way to his need to cover his ears when things got just a little loud. I advocate for my child. Am I asking for a cure? No. I wouldn’t change what he is for anything. What I advocate for is understanding, education, and the ability to get him the tools he needs to reach his full potential because I have a brilliant child who can’t articulate the genius of his mind.
This blog is mainly to vent and rant because God knows I’d lose friends if I went off at every comment and “Piece of advice” I got from people who are viewing this situation from outside the box. What we need is support, love and understanding. I have no time for being undermined, dejected and judged. I’m raising a boy on the spectrum to be a brilliant young man on the spectrum who will support others, be kind to them, and look at every situation with an open mind and heart.
Please go visit TheAutismSite.com and click the red button. Every click earns a donation towards Autism Therapy funding for kids and adults like my boys. You pay nothing, you just click and close. Thanks!!!