2. Everything happens for a reason!Autism is a neurological condition, that makes it extremely difficult for those who have it to function in the world today. Everyday things like the arrangement of food on a plate, the type and texture of the food, the noises of traffic and crowds of people, or simply things not happening exactly when and how they normally do can cause an Autistic child extreme distress. Not because they are naughty or spoiled, because they do not cope with change like most do. They explore and feel pain differently than neuro-typical children which, means they can frequently injure themselves. When they are anxious or distressed ASD kids can self-harm by banging their heads and/or scratching themselves. The everyday world that you and I live in is fraught with dangers and difficulties that you cannot understand until you’ve watched your child struggle simply getting from one end of the day to the next.
Whether someone’s child suffers from only one of these difficulties or all of the at once; they don’t want to hear that their child is struggling for a reason.
3. Well… He doesn’t look like he has special needs.No, Autism on its own doesn’t shows itself physically, there are some who say autistic children tend to be smaller. My son is 5 and in age 3 clothing, but I also know a 6 year old autistic boy who is the size of an 8 year old. This just implies that it would be worse if the child “looked different” from everyone else, it’s insulting and degrading to children whose conditions or disabilities are physical.
4. Oh my sister’s hairdresser’s cousin has a friend who has an autistic child! I know how tough it is.Unless this is followed by, “oh let me give you their number or email, it might be good to talk to someone who understands better” this is not helpful. It’s self-indulgent and attention seeking and that it.
5. It mustn’t be that severe, you can’t really tell he has it.This is something that we hear a lot. Conor was very lucky that he got diagnosed so young and attended two years of early intervention in a special needs school. But at the time of his diagnosis he was in the midrange of spectrum, the reason why you “can’t tell” is because we have his routine down to tee. And we are lucky enough that we can bring him away for a day or even overnight if we prepare him enough beforehand. I don’t credit any of this to the “severity” of his autism, I credit it to the work of the teachers in his special needs school, Conor’s amazing coping skills and the work his other mother and I put into every single day to make sure that things run on what I call “Conor’s Time”. We approach our world through the eyes of autism.
Instead of saying “It must not be that bad” and trivialising the child’s condition try saying “Wow, you must be doing a brilliant job. He’s clearly doing very well.”
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