It wasn’t until the day that one of my children was diagnosed with both Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder that I realized quite how upsetting the topic was to many people. I still do not know why labels that are used for medical purposes, that open doors for children in need, can be such an issue for so many. After all, the word “Autism” to me is just a word. My child is still my child, and the world we live in may be unique at times, but it is also extraordinary.
I’m not sure if people just don’t know what to say, or if they are simply uninformed and inexperienced. As a parent of two children who face specific challenges, I can assure you that there are a list of things that I have had said to me that are anything but helpful.
Here are just a few suggestions for sensitivity towards parents with ASD children:
1. Don’t worry, he is just a being a boy or she is just being a girl, because boys are like this and girls are like that.
Yes boys and girls are different often times, but there are many signs and characteristics of autism spectrum disorder that if missed or ignored could be hurtful to your child if they do not get certain resources to help them overcome the adversity in their lives early on and build upon the many amazing qualities they already have.
2. At least they look pretty normal. If you just looked at them you would never know.
First: “normal” is a joke. Second: I never said that my kids were not “normal.” Third: what they look like at first glance does not directly correlate with the obstacles they face in their lives or that we face in our household. Fourth: I would love my child no matter what they looked like.
3. Doctors and therapists are just taking advantage of you and don’t always know what they are talking about. They are just getting you all worked up over nothing.
I am just going to insert some ????? here because this statement is insulting to many people on many levels. There is no comment even worth the time to respond to a comment that is clearly more about a person’s denial and own feelings than the life and best interests of a child.
4. There are plenty of kids who don’t talk. All kids develop at their own pace.
Jessica joins aspergers101 team of writers as a single mother of two extraordinary children who believes that all children deserve the love and acceptance that they give out. Follow Jessica in the Family section of aspergers101 and share in her personal stories as she will cry and laugh her way through life. Jessica blogs regularly on her site, My Extraordinary Child, a place where parenting is discussed, tears and sarcasm come to meet, and differences are celebrated. “Unless the world stops limiting opportunities for people of all abilities, I never will. Join me on a journey of tears, laughter, and courage”. -Jessica Nieminski
Q: Dear Lisa,
We think our daughter has Asperger’s. It’s all only her way and she bursts out laughing at very awkward times. She has no friends and doesn’t’ seem to care about her hygiene or people skills. I’m not sure where to go or what to do. We live in a rural area in Tennessee. Does the school or doctor’s office help? I’m reading online and found aspergers101 and it seems the closest to finding what is wrong.
-Mary Andrews, Greenbrier Tennessee
A: Dear Mary,
While I live in Texas, there are some federal guidelines that mandate certain functions at the state level that should provide some guidance to you and your family. Go to the following link for some initial information:
The Education (K-12) Blogs and Special Ed Q & A are written and maintained weekly by Lisa Rogers with Educating Diverse Learners. Lisa received her M.A. in Special Education with an endorsement in the area of individuals with severe disabilities. Mrs. Rogers has also created products that have been used throughout the state of Texas for training purposes. Through the Association for Texas Professional Educators [ATPE], Ms. Rogers has produced an online course that targets the importance of visual strategies for student with autism spectrum disorders and just released her highly anticipated book titled: Visual Supports for Visual Thinkers.
Dr. Temple Grandin once told my son Sam: “when you’re looking for employment, you must show your work“. Indeed! For someone diagnosed with High Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome, you must rely on the merit of your work, because oftentimes challenging social cues can override a large portion of the interviewing process.
Asperger Syndrome Training and Employment Partnership provides a very good checklist to review before you go through the interview process.
Gabriela Lemos was born in Porto Alegre, Brasil, and was raised in San Antonio, Texas. She is currently a student at UTSA, graduating in December 2014 with a Bachelor degree in English. Brie states that she loves language and words, and the way in which people communicate with each other. She has always been interested and attracted to the autism community. “I find those on the spectrum to be incredible in so many ways, and I believe we can all learn from each other in our different strengths and weaknesses. I would love to use my talents to aid those who are not as strong in areas which I have confidence, and in turn receive an infinite amount of lessons and aid from those who I work with. Everything you send out, comes back to you, and I plan to practice sending out love and compassion every day”. We feel so fortunate to offer Brie’s talent of writing as well as her passion for autism awareness every week through our Aspergers101 Weekly.