April is Autism Awareness month. As a parent with two children on the spectrum I thought I would share some of the things that people say that bother me. Honestly most of these statements or questions come from a good place but they still can be hurtful or at the very least a little annoying. Let me make you aware of some of the offending phrases.
- “Aww, I am sorry to hear that”
This is number one for a reason. It upsets me every time someone responds this way when they find out my child has Autism. Why are you sorry? I’m not. My kid is awesome. He has Autism not a terminal illness. Our family is thriving and awaiting many amazing things to come. He is different not dying, so there is nothing to feel sorry about.
2. “That must be so hard on you.”
Yes, parenting is hard. Yes, there are times I want Calgon to take me way to a magic island with wine filled coconuts. However it is not because of Autism. Its because kids! Raising little people is challenging no matter what. As parents we adapt and grow. Having an Autistic child is not a burden, it’s a learning experience.
3. “There is nothing wrong with him.”
This is the statement I find most damaging. Autism is a spectrum. Some kids are extremely high functioning but still need assistance in certain areas. Assuming that because a child looks “normal” they can’t have challenges is unfair. It also has an undertone that implies I am not parenting my child right and I am making excuses for him. If only it were that simple.
4. “So, he is slow?”
No. No. No. Children and adults with disabilities, including Autism, are not slow. They process things differently. Life presents itself in a way that only they can understand and provides another perspective on the world around us. This sparks innovation and creativity, which help make this planet a much more interesting place to live. Many great artworks, inventions, and intellectual theories have hailed from what would be considered “slow” people. Let’s change that narrative and understand some people follow their own unique path to greatness.