5 Things You Should Not Say To A Parent Whose Child Has Autism
When you are a parent and your child has been diagnosed with autism, you're probably in for quite the learning experience and the last thing you want are comments and labels from well-meaning family members and friends.
I'm pretty good friends with a man who has autism and although he might not be deemed an 'extreme case', there are some things to think through lest we say something offensive.
Here are 5 things that we should not say to a parent or someone we know with autism:
- "She doesn't look like she has autism!" - No doubt, you as a parent have had people say this to you about your child. Keep in mind that doctors are trying to work as smart as they are able when working with a child with autism. There tends to be a statement out there that says, "If you've met one person with autism, then you've met one person with autism." One lady actually thought that autism was Down Syndrome which is why she kept saying, "She doesn't look like she has autism." What does autism look like? It's a good idea to keep this comment out of the discussion.
- "I'm Sorry" - How do you as a parent feel when you tell someone you trust that your child has autism and they say, "I'm sorry?" Sadly, parents here this all too often. Autism is not the end of the world. As one man put it, would you say you were sorry to the parents of Mozart or Albert Einstein? Think about it.
- "Have you tried...?" - Parents with an autistic child just wish that people would stopping asking and offering suggestions. Especially when they say, "Have you tried gluten-free diets?" This assumes that the parent isn't doing everything within their power to get all the help their autistic child needs. Please, stop with the stupid question.
- "Don't Say He's Autistic!" - The last thing a parent, who has an autistic child, needs is some P.C. - Person telling them not to refer to their child as autisitc. He's not your son, so maybe you should keep your political correctness ideaologies to yourself. It's offensive, to say the least, and a bit nosey, I might add.
- "Is She High-Functioning?" - Some parents have said that total strangers will ask this question. As if the person wants to sound intelligent or something. A lot of kiddo's are not even diagnosed with autism until after the age of 2 and a half. It's not only pointless, but rude to ask a parent this question.
The information here may sound a bit sensitive, but if you or someone you know has a child, or has been a child, with autism, then you understand what we're saying is true.
The best thing to do is to feel the situation out as to whether or not the parent wants to talk about it. Being a good listener is key and treating the child as normal will help too.