At the rates autism is diagnosed now, it’s certain everyone knows someone with a kid who is diagnosed. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of having a child diagnosed yourself, there are some things we’d like you to know:
1. Sometimes we skip out on play-dates and birthday parties.
Sometimes we just say we are busy right away, to avoid any uncomfortable cancellations. Sometimes we really do want to make it, but have to back out at the last minute. No, our kid is not always sick. Once in a while, our kiddo just didn’t sleep all night or woke up in a “mood”. A lot of times we don’t want to deal with behaviors or make it uncomfortable for our kid, ourselves, or you and your party guests. We also don’t want to always have to apologize and/or explain their behavior to your kids schoolmates parents.
2. You can’t convince us that you really don’t mind their behavior.
Ok- a lot of times friends can be patient and understanding. Then there’s times where my kid is in the zone and bulldozers your two year old- TWICE. You don’t seem very forgiving at that point. There’s also the chance that my kid decides to loudly announce that your kid is a bully. You also don’t look too thrilled at that point. Fact is, no matter how wonderful of a parent you are, sometimes your kid can be a jerk. It’s probably because they haven’t really been explained too much about autism or why some kids struggle in large group settings. The just don’t understand that the kid getting in their space, needs a big ol’ freakin hug. They can get annoyed and not be too nice. I’m not saying it’s your fault or even that they are really a bully. But again, it’s a situation that is sometimes better to just be avoided.
3. Your friends cousins kid who has autism is not the same as our kid with autism.
If you don’t personally deal with autism everyday, you may not realize what a huge spectrum there really is. Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD- it means some kids are high functioning. They can talk, walk, play, participate in school- you may not even really believe they are autistic at all. Then there are kids who are severe enough that they will never be able to live independently. While we appreciate you wanting to be able to talk to us about the situation, your limited experience with your friends cousins kid probably doesn’t give you much experience to talk to us about it. The things you think you know through your friends cousin’s kid, probably isn’t very relevant to us. If you’d like to know more about our kid, please ask questions and listen to our answers. Now, we would really love to get in touch with your friends cousin. An ASD parent can never have too many other ASD parent friends. We love our support groups.
4. Your parenting advice, while appreciated, probably isn’t helpful.
How you potty trained your one year old has nothing to compare to the way we are potty training our 3 year old with ASD. How you discipline your kid for hitting another, isn’t going to be how we explain to our kid that hitting isn’t appropriate. Your kid understands personal space. Mine doesn’t. Explaining it to him isn’t going to fix it. There’s so much we have to do besides just parenting to reach our ASD kids. Occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, special diets, extra care with sticking to a routine- these are all common, daily experiences for ASD parents. Time out may work for your kids poor behavior. We have to discover what is causing our kids behavior and ‘fix’ that first. Please be understanding and non-judgmental in the way we parent.
5. We do have another group of friends- our ASD parents. We often feel more comfortable with situations that involve the kids.
Lets face it. When our 10 year old is getting angry with a baby crying or screaming and crying over what appears to be nothing, these other ASD parents don’t even bat an eye. They let us do our thing with our kid. They don’t look uncomfortable or lost with what to do. Its just sometimes easier to be in a setting like that.
6. We still love you and want to hang out with you.
And we really hope you can be understanding of our situation and still love us. Don’t get angry when we miss several play-dates. Don’t get annoyed when you see us with our ASD friends. Don’t give up on us. We will figure out the balance eventually and make time for you. For now though, our kid comes first. Your kids come first to you also, right? Heck, that’s why you have all those play-dates! You wouldn’t be having them for any other reason.
Do you have anything to add? Comment below!