How about I just answer all the questions right now?
- No, he is not "just like" Rain Man.
- Yes, I know he doesn't "look" autistic. (I'm not sure what people think autism looks like. They seem to think this is some kind of compliment. It's actually just confusing.)
- No, praying really, really hard will probably not "cure" him.
- Yes, I know he's really cute. It turns out the Special Needs Fairy doesn't care.
- Yes, we do discipline him. But no, we're not going to "spank the autism right out of him."
- Also, please know that if you ask me if I took antidepressants while I was pregnant, I may punch in you in the throat.
Little Dude is five, and not toilet-trained. He often needs to be carried; usually this is because he's overwhelmed by his surroundings. The Parenting Experts like to ask back-handed "helpful" questions, like "Isn't he getting a little big for Pull-Ups / being carried / having a meltdown on the floor of Target?" The thing is, he's autistic, not deaf. And while he's emotionally 36 months old, academically he's seven years old. So he knows what you're saying, jackhole. And you putting pressure on him to change things he has no control over? Does not help us one bit.
Here's a pro tip: If you see a kid who looks "too big" for diapers, believe me, the parent a) already knows his/her child is in diapers; b) is not lazy (it's actually a lot of work to change diapers year after year); and c) has already tried every suggestion you have. Telling us your 18-month-old child potty-trained in two days because you used a sticker chart is not helpful advice; it's showing off. Shut. Up.
Then someone says, for example, "Isn't he getting a little big to be carried?" they're actually saying "put that kid down and stop spoiling your child." The thing is, when I'm holding my freaked-out, 50-pound child while simultaneously pushing a grocery cart, it's not really the best time for me to stop and explain about autism, sensory integration, frustration tolerance and how overwhelmed and terrified he is right now. I'd hand out little cards to explain it, but I'd need a third hand for that.
I honestly don't understand why anyone gives a crap if, when, why, or how long I carry him. It's not like I'm asking the Random Muttonheads to lug him around. It's also an excellent upper-body workout for me, and Maude knows I don't have time/money to go to a gym. And yet, it inexplicably bothers some people tremendously to see me comforting my child in this way.
A family we're friends with has a son with microcephaly and ataxia (loss of motor function). Because he's obviously profoundly disabled, most people have the good sense to just shut the hell up. On the other hand, because he's obviously profoundly disabled, sometimes people think he has no idea what's going on around him, which isn't true. It would be awesome if you didn't ask about his life expectancy in front of him.
Speaking of horrifying comments, I also have friends with a daughter with both autism and a degenerative mitochondrial disease. They have been asked, "So how long are you going to let her live like this?" By actual nurses. Um, holy crap. On a less chilling note, these parents also constantly get the "isn't she getting a little big for pacifiers?" Really? You want to take away the one thing that, oh I don't know ... pacifies a child who's in almost constant pain? Bite me.
The Medical ExpertsAutism is in the news a lot. Sometimes it's in the news because a celebrity has written a book about their autistic child and how he or she was "cured" through the use of prayer / ABA Therapy / chelation / organic zucchini / oxygen chambers / leeches / Eye of Newt imported from Transylvania.
The Actual Medical ExpertsSometimes the actual medical experts are more annoying than the faux medical experts. I've read enough studies on things that might cause an increased risk of autism, thanks. Also, we've had enough studies that conclude that girls are slipping through the cracks of autism diagnosis. How about you get back to me when you've figured out a better way to diagnose them?
Also, a lot of medical specialists like to play a little game called Pass the Annoying Incurable Buck. Neurology would like you to see Orthopedics, who sends you to Psychology, who tells you to see the Feeding Clinic, where they tell you to see Gastroenterology, which sends you to Allergy, which recommends Neurology. By this time, Mommy needs to see both Psychology and a Financial Advisor.
| "There's nothing to see here, folks. |
Just a child having a meltdown. Move along."
(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011