Is it bad to say you love oxymorons? An oxymoron is defined as: a combination of contradictory or incongruous words. Is it in some way an oxymoron that you love something that sort of doesn’t make sense? There is something so humorous about these expressions that don’t make sense. No matter what I do nor where I go some things just do not make sense to me. Here are a few tidbits for you:
- Having a conversation with a person who does not have a special needs child telling you what it’s like to have a special needs child. Um, what? I got a call from someone who is interested in getting some assistance for a charity. In the course of conversation this person is telling me about resources that special needs children usually need. I know you don’t have to have a special needs kid to empathize and I am appreciative of anyone who wants to raise money for these events and programs. However, I think it all stems from the delivery, the know- it- all type of tone used during this discussion. I get people don’t know what to say, but then don’t approach the conversation from a place of knowledge, approach from a place of raising awareness or good intentions. I asked,” do you have a special needs child?” “No I don’t but a friend of my friend’s cousin’s daughter or something to that effect does.” In my head I’m thinking “be nice, be nice, be nice”. I was, but it was a struggle.
- Went to a medical professional recently. This person told me their dog is detached and not affectionate.This person said, “My dog has autism.” Really? Really? Your dog has autism. I’m sorry but dogs don’t have autism, my son is beyond affectionate, and there are so many other things wrong here, don’t get me started. Can you say stereotype?
- Went to a support group recently for parents of children with autism. The two coordinators were fabulous, knowledgeable, encouraging, and caring. One parent was so annoying and tried to monopolize the whole group. There is one in every crowd after all. I kept thinking, I need support to deal with this woman from the support group. Luckily my friend, and partner in crime, and I, went out afterward to decompress. In hindsight the two of us sitting at a bar may have been all the support either of us needed (note to self).
I guess if this blog has to have a point it’s just that things that would seem to make sense in everyday life do not make sense at all in the autism world. Why do people feel compelled to act like they know more than you? We have a friend that once compared our son to a puppy. People, WTF? Life is challenging enough that we don’t need insensitive comments from those we trust and care about. I know people don’t always know what to say about a special needs kid, but I can bet we all have a fairly good idea of what not to say. It’s like anything else. If someone has an illness or problem that you don’t have you can empathize with them without coming off like a dope.
So here are some suggestions for difficult situations. Not universal, but may keep you safe in a minefield:
- Hey, I don’t have a lot of experience in what you’re dealing with, but I’d like to help. How can I help?
- I am thinking of you and I’m here if you want to talk or have a drink or just need someone to listen.
- Can I babysit? (ok this is definitely more personal, but that’s really a good one if your kid has autism)
And, in keeping with my theme here, I’d like to offer some things you are better off not saying, at least not to me:
- I don’t know how you do it, you have so much on your plate.
- I could never do what you do.
- Your child seems pretty good.
- Is your child high functioning?