You would assume with the recent multi-media autism awareness initiatives that the general population would be more sensitized and aware about autism — the nation’s fastest growing health crisis. Sadly, it seems that this is not so.
My friends and I who have children on the autism spectrum — “Club Members,” as we call ourselves — often get together to laugh (and cry) about people’s insensitive and intrusive comments. As if the daily balance of therapies, meltdowns, behavior quirks, siblings and spouses isn’t enough to push us close to the edge, Club Members must also deal with the general public and their sometimes not-so-kind statements and/or questions.
Heretowith, is a Top 10 list of inane and insane statements and questions that the “Club Members” have had to contend with over the years, and the politically incorrect replies we’d like to give, if only we didn’t live in a duplicitous politically correct world.
No, he doesn’t. The same way you don’t look like you'd approach me with a rude comment. And yet, here we are.
No, I do not have an autistic kid. But, I do have a child with autism. Autism is just one aspect of his multi-faceted life; autism doesn’t define who he is. It is one part of who he is.
No, he’s not always like that. Sometimes, he adds kicking, crying and screaming to the mix. Because like San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, he likes to throw an unexpected change-up every now and then.
Thank you for your diagnosis. Now that you’ve said he’s fine, my husband and I can stop spending tens of thousands of dollars annually for unnecessary therapies. We can take that money, domesticate a Bengal tiger and keep it in the backyard. The kids would really like that.
My children are less embarrassed by their sibling than your children most certainly are about having a mother who offends strangers with hurtful questions.
Thank you, kind stranger, for essentially putting me in the same category as Casey Anthony and Susan Smith, those two other motherhood icons.
I completely understand; My kids refuse to ride in anything but a Ferrari or Maserati! I’ll assume “tart cart” is your euphemism for the “little yellow bus” (which, for the record, should never be confused with the Joni Mitchell or Counting Crow’s cover of “Big Yellow Taxi”) which is the euphemism for “special needs transportation.”
Listen, lady — and I take a great leap of faith to call you, “Lady" — If removing pancakes… or dairy… or nuts… or gluten… or any other miscellaneous and offensive gastronomical item would make my son (more) typical, I would do that in a heartbeat. But in this case, it’s not that simple.
First of all, armbands are so World War II. Second, while I never underestimate the importance of a good accessory, it’s very difficult to find an armband that can fashionably take my child from daytime to nighttime. By the way, is that an “I’m with Stupid” shirt I see your husband wearing?
Sacré bleu! Yes, well the French still consider Jerry Lewis a comical genius, wanted Dominique Strauss-Kahn as their president, and eat snails. Enough said.
We — the Club Members — understand human nature. But we also live by the adage "knowledge is power." We are collectively proud of our children, and want to demystify and destigmatize autism, and special needs children in general.
We look forward to your questions, as long as they are thoughtful, insightful and helpful, versus rude, intrusive and hurtful. And please understand that "little pitchers have big ears" — and that your questions don't go unnoticed by our children, either.
For more information on autism, visit www.autismspeaks.org
Moms of children who have special needs, what's the most insensitive thing a stranger has said to you?
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