If you follow any autism blogs, you have no doubt seen several of these lists. They are lists of things NOT to say to the parent of a child with autism. Why are we so annoyed at certain questions or comments? Can’t we just listen without the eye roll? I promise you that we try. We really do. I usually smile and nod, but this is how I want to respond:
“He looks so normal.” Really? Because he has a six inch padawan braid and his pants are on backwards and inside out, but ok. (But seriously, this is a weird attempt at a compliment.)
“How do you think he got it?” It was probably all of the autism juice I drank when I was pregnant. It tastes like Mountain Dew and pairs well with chicken nuggets.
“Will he grow out of it?” I think so. I’m pretty sure autism is a lot like a pair of Stride Rite sneakers.
“Have you tried gluten free?” While some people have claimed success with this one, others of us have kids who will only eat 3 different foods. So, seriously… we will cut you.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Does this make us jerks, unwilling to converse about autism? After all, we want people to understand what is going on with our children, right? Why be so defensive?
It’s like this… pretend that you are a really tall person. Every day someone asks you how the weather is waaaay up there. Maybe they ask you if you are really good at basketball, but you get asked this every day. Everyday someone sends you articles on how to shrink yourself, or about what caused your stature. It is either old news, ridiculous, or something you just don’t have the time for because you are pretty used to being tall by now.
If you have said any of these things to a parent, don’t worry. We don’t dislike you. In fact, we know that your heart is in the right place. I suppose that these list are a way of venting, because if there is anything that we know A LOT about, it is repetition. We hear the same things over and over, and adults are the least of it. We have watched the same Little Einsteins video so many times that all classical music has been ruined forever. We know all about how to kill the Enderdragon in Minecraft. We have also made the same thing for dinner 37 nights in a row. We do this for our kid, and clearly, we love them. So, how mad could we really be at being asked the same questions over and over? But we are a tired and sleep deprived percentage of the population. We get grumpy. So when someone asks, “How do you do it?” (and they will) Sometimes the answer is, “I have to write about my pet peeves in list form”
I know that I do not represent all autism parents, but I feel confident that no one would mind me saying this… We do like one kind of repetition, and that is a second cup of coffee. Now THAT is always welcome support.