Eleven Things You Should Never Say to a Parent Who Has A Child with Autism
Some people say the dumbest things sometimes, and often they say the cruelest and unkind things too, thinking they are trying to be helpful and positive, but completely missing the mark. If you are a parent with a child on the spectrum, you probably have heard some of these comments below. If you are not a parent with an ASD child, do everyone a favor and not open your mouth to utter any of the following.
- “Well, at least he isn’t mentally retarded—some kids with autism are.” Not only is this an insensitive thing to say, but it is also an ignorant thing to say too.
- “Wow, I didn’t know she could do that! I didn’t think autistic kids could….(fill in the blank here)”. Really? What DID you think kids with autism could do? Give them more credit where credit is due.
- “What did you do wrong during your pregnancy?” This usually comes from someone who assumes it is all our fault that our kids “contracted” autism.
- “Did you drop him as an infant?” This one sometimes follows #3, when a much older person who knows nothing about the spectrum asks you.
- “You poor thing! Surely you won’t risk it and have any more like that one, will you?” Wow. Just…wow. Parents don’t need your pity, they need your support, and even though autism does seem to run in families, it doesn’t mean all of the children will be “afflicted”.
- “Control your brat, lady! He/she is….(destroying the store, having a tantrum and needs to be spanked, etc.)” Um, no, my child is overstimulated and needs to go somewhere nice and quiet for a really long rest period, not be screamed at by you.
- “What’s wrong with your kid? Why doesn’t he/she listen or look at me when I’m talking to him/her?” This is when parents with autistic kids stop and correct others by telling them there is nothing “wrong” with their children and then act as advocates for autism by explaining their children’s behavior.
- “This is God’s punishment for something you or your partner did.” While the sins of the father may still be visited upon the children, most of us like to think that God doesn’t make mistakes and that our children on the spectrum should be celebrated for all they are capable of, not shamed for what others assume must be the reason for their existence.
- “Nobody wants to play with your kid because he/she is weird.” There are too many viral stories out there of parents who refused to let their children play with an autistic child or attend an ASD child’s birthday party. That’s just sad, and more sad for those that think and utter this because they can’t see that having their children spend time with an autistic child would teach their own children more compassion and provide them with greater understanding and less fear.
- “What are you going to do with him/her when he/she grows up? Do they still put autistic people in a county hospital/asylum?” Overtly nosy people tend to ask this because they wonder if you are going to have a Boo Radley living with you until you die, or if you will send your adult child on the spectrum away to some place where he/she won’t hurt anyone (as if he or she would).
- “Autism? How do you get that?” Unless this person has been living under a rock since the sixties, you probably won’t hear this, but parents who do use it as an opportunity to share their knowledge about what autism is and isn’t.