I usually try to stay away from just cutting-and-pasting things that other bloggers post (out of respect for them), but will provide a link to where I get information or ideas. I decided to make an exception today, and I did so after reading several posts that my friend Ashley shared on her Facebook wall from another father who has a child with autism, Stuart Duncan. One post he wrote, way back in 2011, provided some phrases that parents with autism frequently hear, and ones that Amber and I have heard along the way (not all of them). The phrases he shares can surely be seen as hurtful when they are made about your child. For the complete entry, click here. Here is what he shared for things that people should not say to a parent of a child with autism:
Do not say
- Your kid just needs proper discipline
- My kids would never get away with that
- What made your kid autistic? Was it something you did?
- You shouldn’t take your kid out if they’re just going to be like that.
- Your kid doesn’t look autistic
- Are you sure your kid is autistic?
- Why would you have more children if there’s a risk they could have autism too?
- Have you thought about a group home or institution for your child, so that you can go back to having a normal life?
- Sorry, I don’t really want my child to play with yours.
- Your kid is defective
- Your kid will grow out of it, right?
- Autism? That’s like Rain Man, right?
- It must be nice to get special funding or special help!
- I hope my kids don’t end up like yours
- You need to watch your kids better
- Maybe you’re just bad parents
- But all children do that
- But your kid was so good for me
- Referring to your child with a nickname such as “rain man” or “stimmer”
Like I said, Amber and I have heard some of these, either directed at us or when people thought we were not listening, and it bothered me then and it bothers me now to think about it. Yes, we have heard that “all children do that” about Kaitlyn, and that she “was so good” for someone for the few hours she was with them, and even that other parents would not “let their kids get away” with something that Amber and I waved off (yes, mom, we do actually let a lot of things slide! Please note that it was not my mom who said the phrase about letting her kids get away with stuff; my brother and I did not get away with much.).
I doubt that Mr. Duncan shared his list so that people felt like they had to walk on eggshells around him or his kid, and that is certainly not why I shared it. I am just hoping to point out that it is ok to sometimes think before opening your mouth, and that brief minute you take to think things through may be all you need to get a better understanding of the child and/or parents you are about to comment about. A little understanding goes a long way.