Three times in as many days, I have read blogs written by parents whose children have Autistic Spectrum Disorder or Autism.
Three times in as many days, I have been furiously horrified by the comments left by some readers.
It seems to me that a lot of folks, likely without intent (always the benefit of the doubt), are blaming the parents of ASD kids for their children’s issues or behaviors. I’ve read the subtle finger-pointing (It’s a DISCIPLINE problem!) to the overt (If you didn’t do this or that, your kid wouldn’t behave that way, YOU BAD PARENT!). It’s making me really angry.
As someone who has a family member who is somewhere on the spectrum (we know now. When he was a child, the diagnosis didn’t really exist), as someone who has friends with ASD kids and as someone who has trained professionally, and personally worked with children and adults on various levels of the spectrum, I have this to say.
It’s perfectly fine to wax on about how you would handle things if it was your kid, but guess what? Unless you’ve been there to live through a full on meltdown, you have no idea. When someone you love tries to hurt you or themselves, and that child has no control over what they are doing, when you as their caregiver have been down the same road so many times that you know all you can do is wait for the storm to blow itself out in a few hours (hopefully less than eight) how the HELL can you, as an observer, offer any advice? And how dare you pass judgement.
Fine, some of it is well-meaning. Suggesting diet things you’ve read, drugs, brain hemisphere balancing, sensory treatment, blah, blah, so on, is really not helpful because you know what? These parents have likely tried it all, including things you wouldn’t ever think of. Remember this: these are their children, their babies. Can you even imagine how painful it must be to watch your loved child struggle and obsess? To go from happy and functioning one moment to unreachable the next? It’s bad enough when your kid is typical.
Before you comment to these parents, know this. These blogs are being written to educate you and as an emotional release. These writers/parents are the bravest of the brave. They are letting you peek into a world of frustration and triumph, a rollercoaster world of highs and lows even they themselves don’t understand. Please, show some respect.
Have some empathy, some compassion. It’s hard enough being a parent. Harder still parenting a child who has special needs.
If you want to help, educate yourself. Learn. Acceptance and understanding come with knowledge. But don’t judge their parenting. Trust me, they’ve done that enough by themselves.
And always bear in mind; people on the spectrum, physically disabled, mentally challenged, wheelchair bound, brain injured, mentally ill, deaf, blind, mute, one-armed, one-legged, people with Tourette’s, Down Syndrome, PDD, ODD, FASD, dementia, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, are PEOPLE first.
We’re all here together. That’s never going to change. Be kind.
*drops keyboard, stalks off*