Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What Not To Tell People With Autistic Children

Welcome to a special Autism edition of The Cherry On Top.

As most readers know my husband and I have two young boys on the Autism spectrum.  Our oldest is high functioning while our youngest is not.  Our mission is to find out everything we can about Autism.  We also want to find ways to help minimise the symptoms and prepare for the future.  If you know of excellent resources, share them in the comments.

A great way to help folks with their life long journey with Autism is knowing what not to say to them.  If you're not sure, don't say anything.  It's always best.  The spectrum is huge and not all Autistic folks are the same.  Not even close.  If you know just one, you don't know them all.

Consider these suggestions.

What NOT to tell people with Autistic children:

That they are spoiling their children.

For years both my in-laws and my parents continuously accused us of spoiling our children until we received official diagnosis from a team of professionals.  What a relief it was for us.  Our own family could finally stop BLAMING us for our children’s difficult and challenging behavior.  (Our very own experience has taught us that corporal punishment increases ill behavior 10 fold.  Find out why here and read about other ways to communicate besides hitting here.)

Do NOT tell caretakers of Autistic kids that it will pass.  For one, you will sound like a complete ignoramus because we are not talking about gas here.  It will not pass.  Autism is a lifetime sentence.  There will be terrible, unbelievably challenging phases where one will want to pull hair out, slam doors and cry into the pillow and there will be less traumatic phases, but every single day is a challenge and if one thinks otherwise, then they are looking at a world through rose coloured glasses where unicorns fart rainbows and leprechauns are waiting at the other end with a pot of gold.

Do NOT tell parents of Autistic children they have been blessed.  Hello!  Logical, rational, intelligent people do not believe in being blessed.  We all know that shit happens and some get more than others.  Autism is not a blessing.  We have learned a lot through our experience and we love our children to the point of physical and mental deterioration, but if we could ditch the Autism, we wouldn’t think twice.  Why else would so many desperate souls be looking for a cure?!

I’m pretty sure when people say it’s a blessing they actually mean they feel blessed by not having kids with Autism.  Now, THAT is something I can get my head around.  

Do NOT bother with the Evil Jedi Mind Trick Glare.  For one, it doesn’t work.  You will only make things worse for yourself.  When a smart, receptive parent feels the power of a negative force, they won’t even bother to try and deal with whatever annoyance that person may be having because they only have to deal with Autism for a tiny fraction of their life while the caretakers will continue until they’ve made the grave.

Another reason this is a waste of time is many kids with Autism do not GET what the people are even doing and if it were my kids, they would probably make fun of that person, point and laugh because to them, they look funny and weird.

This goes back to the whole corporal punishment tactic and why it doesn’t work.  Many Autistic kids don’t feel guilt, shame or even have the slightest bit of responsibility for their actions.  Cause and effect is just as obscure to them as to most people’s conceptualization and understanding of Autism.

Do NOT tell folks dealing with Autism that you don’t believe in Autism.  It isn’t religion!  It has nothing to do with faith or belief.   Autism is very real.  Autism spectrum is a “complex set of neurological disorders that severely impair social, communicative and cognitive functions” and “scientists have determined that Autism is a genetically based condition”. 

So what should you say to a parent whose life has been turned absolutely upside down?  Whose entire future will be dedicated to this eternal struggle?  Who will more than likely have to care for their child or children their entire life because over 90% of Autistic people are unemployed and are not capable of caring for themselves?

Nothing!  Keep the gob shut because the 5 minutes of agitated impatience and lack of compassion only makes people look like a fool.  If these are people you know and love, ask if there is anything you could do to help.  Tell them they are doing a great job and that you are there if they need you.  Be honest and say you don't understand if you don't or that you can't possibly imagine what it's like or how difficult it must be.  If it isn't constructive or helpful, don't bother saying anything.  (This goes for life in general, too. ;)

These are my musings.  It’s not a debate or open for discussion.  Just some truth laid out as I see it.  After over a decade of dealing with Autism I have been given one very important gift.  The gift of not giving a crap about what other people think about my kids and the way we are raising them.

I've got another blog entry with tips on how to host a party for special needs kids as well as tips on how to attend a party for a kid with special needs.

If you're looking for support or advise with your Autistic children, friends or family go ahead and leave a comment and we'll see what we can work out together.

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