A few weeks ago, I asked the following question on my Ketchup With a Side of Autism Facebook page: What are some well-meaning comments people have made that annoy you?
The response was overwhelming. In general, the consensus was that people have the best intentions but that even well-intended comments can have the opposite effect. Here are some of the comments many of my readers have heard over the course of their journeys with children on the spectrum:
- He’s picky with food? Don’t feed him for a day. He’ll change his tune
- He doesn’t look autistic.
- Did you know they have people who can teach you techniques to control his behavior
- I heard … insert cure of the day from the news media … will cure autism. Have you tried that?
- One day she will talk and you will want peace and quiet
And the comment that came up the most is...
- G-d only gives special kids to special people.
People have a habit of not thinking before they speak. Unfortunately, with comments like those above, parents feel hurt or as if they are being patronized. As parents of these kids we, have a tendency to take comments like that on the chin. But all that does is lead to animosity among the ranks and that is not helpful to anyone. After all of those responses had come in, one of my readers mentioned that it would be interesting to find out what parents would really like to hear about their kids. So I asked readers: What do you want to hear from others with regard to autism? Here is a sample of their responses:
- Instead of yelling at him when he melts down, ask him what’s wrong.
- When he asks you to leave him alone, please be respectful and do so.
- “Tell me more about autism.”
- “Your child is awesome! I would love for him to come over and play.”
And the number one thing autism parents would love to hear is...
- “Let me come over and give you a break!”
That’s it in a nutshell. Instead of giving out unwarranted advice, ask what you can do to help. Take an honest interest, and if you’re not sure what to do or ask, simply say, “Please tell me more about autism. I’d really like to learn.” Include autistic kids in play dates, parties, and family functions. If possible, try to give parents a break. We need our alone time just as much as any other couple does. When you take an honest interest and give true support, you will give an irreplaceable gift that will last a lifetime – love! Think about your words. Think about what you can do to help. Make sure your intentions have the intended impact!
xoxoxo ~ Julie