I hear a lot of stupid stuff come out of people’s mouths about autism.
Ignorance is common, but when it’s mingled with and effort to console, reassure, or commiserate…it often becomes unbearable! Yes, you probably mean well, which is why I haven’t brought it up before. You likely want to help support me and my family, which is great. I just wish you knew how the things you say and post often make me cringe.
Here are the top kinds of statements that make me want to punch you in the face (and why):
- “God Only Gives Special Needs Children to Special People” — Seriously, it would be super awesome if all the persons with special needs in this world were gifted with awesome caregivers. Sadly, this is NOT the case. Many children and adults with special needs are abused or mistreated by their families. This statement seeks to tell the parents like me that we are special, but we are just parents. Yes, we have different challenges, but they don’t make us an more special than a parent whose child lacks those challenges.
- “I think/believe that autistic people are meant to be the world’s …dreamers/thinkers/innovators/creative minds/experts/etc.“ — Whatever you are assuming about autistic individuals, you are wrong to assume that ALL (or even most) autistic people fall into a single category or ability range. I know adult autistics in a variety of professions (and some without). They are doctors, writers, waitresses, teachers, grocery store baggers, engineers, cello players, dog walkers, construction workers, and much more. You know who else has those same professions? Non-autistic people.
- “Autistic people are so inspiring!” — People with learning difficulties, disabilities, or other challenges in life are not here to inspire you, teach you to be a better person, or make you feel grateful for things. Can an autistic individual inspire you? Yes, but it shouldn’t be because they are autistic. It’s like admiring or pitying someone for being elderly or a natural redhead.
- “Have you tried essential oils?” — It’s nice that you are into aromatherapy, but I honestly don’t give a damn about your cedarwood oil infuser. Essential oils are often presented to parents of autistic children as cure-alls to fix or decrease unwanted “autistic” behaviors. FYI – autistic adults I have asked have assured me that essential oils are not going to decrease “autistic” behaviors or perfect their sleep habits.
- “Repost if you love someone with autism!” — It’s great that you love someone on the spectrum. I love my son very much, but the likelihood of me reposting this is nil. I don’t feel any need to randomly declare to the world that I love someone…especially not a child that I post hundreds of pictures of on the regular (he looks so cute when he’s sleeping), play animal identification games with, chaufer around to costly therapy, take to fun places like water parks and bounce house, teach to count, buy an absurd number of McDonald’s chicken nuggets for (he eats them for lunches daily), and forgive when he bites me so hard I have teeth marks for a week. If you truly love that person, who also happens to be autistic, expressing it by saying “I love you, <insert name>.” to them.