Top Ten Things You Should (and Shouldn't) Say to The Parent of an Autistic Child
If you're the parent or caregiver of a child on the autism spectrum, Autism Awareness Month is not for you. You are already aware of autism. Like, really, really aware. Aware that you need another cup of coffee, a Xanax, and possibly an advanced degree in Education Law.
Autism Awareness Month is for everyone else. To help out, here's my Top Ten Things You Should (and Shouldn't) Say to The Parent of an Autistic Child.
10. DON'T SAY: "Wow, your son is great at math. He's just like Rain Man."
DO SAY: "Wow, your son is great at math."
9. DON'T SAY: "He should probably be in a special class, so other kids won't make fun of him."
DO SAY: "We should probably be teaching our children more empathy."
8. DON'T SAY: "You should try giving your kid more discipline."
DO SAY: "You should try these brownies I made for you."
7. DON'T SAY: "Wow, your kids all seem to have a lot of problems. Have you ever heard of Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome?"
DO SAY: "Wow, you're really on top of things for your kids. It must be hard, but it seems like you're doing a great job."
6. DON'T SAY: "You should change your child to an astronomically expensive, all-organic, gluten-free, casein-free diet of locally-grown organic broccoli and imported, cruelty-free snake oil capsules."
DO SAY: "Please sit down and rest while I make you some bacon-topped meatloaf and pour you a glass of wine."
5. DON'T SAY: "I think autism is over-diagnosed these days. They're handing that label out like Mardi Gras beads."
DO SAY: "I am alarmed by studies that show that autism spectrum disorders are actually under-diagnosed in girls and minorities. Excuse me while I e-mail my legislator about my desire that he or she increase the fundng for autism research and education."
4. DON'T SAY: "Isn't he getting a little big for diapers?"
DO SAY: "Here, I picked up this case of diapers and some extra Febreze for you while I was at the store."
3. DON'T SAY: "I wish my kid was getting free extra help in school like that."
DO SAY: "I wish I had remembered to mention to my legislator my desire that he or she stop slashing the budget for special education services like they're freaking Zorro or something. Excuse me while I go send another email."
2. DON'T SAY: "You look exhausted."
DO SAY: "How about if I play Lego Star Wars with your kids for the next four hours while you take a nap?"
1. DON'T SAY: "He's fine / it's no big deal / he'll grow out of it / all kids are like that."
DO SAY: "It's so great that you got the diagnosis, even though he's obviously awesomesauce exactly the way he is."