Often times people try to over empathize that they just end up sounding crude and insensitive. I can say with full certainty that many of the really, really stupid things I have heard came from a person that just simply did not understand autism or a mom’s unending sacrifice to the cause. Below are 3 Top Things to Never Say to an Autism Mommy:
- “I’m so sorry for you. You deserve a ‘normal’ child.” The word ‘normal’ is so subjective. What’s normal, anyway?
- “Are you scared to have another child when you’re married. Because what if, well, you know…?” What if, well…what? What if my next baby happens to be on the spectrum? What an incredibly intrusive thing to ask anyway. Obvi, I’ll be in love with my baby and in most cases more prepared to deal with what may come.
- “You must be exhausted dealing with the SPECIAL ways you have to deal with your SPECIAL daughter.” I am exhausted like most mom’s are. It’s hard. It’s difficult. But if you’re my friend, I don’t want to talk about what my daily life is. I want to feel carefree, laugh and have a great time.
Sigh. Do you get my drift? What the above phrase do is force a mommy to be on the defensive and to either prove you wrong or punch you in the face.
Here are some ideas to say to an Autism Mom.
- “Is there anything I can do to help you out?” Yes, Autism Mom’s may look like we got it all together , but that’s really a perk of the territory. Having a schedule and sticking to a schedule may make us appear to be heroic, but our schedules really are for our children’s feelings of thriving off a routine and needing dependability. You can offer practical solutions to help a parent handle the diagnosis or the ongoing tasks, like help with grocery shopping, babysitting or other daily responsibilities.
- Wow! I really see your child hitting milestones. How’s progress going? This is golden. Number 1, you said “milestones” so you are speaking our language and Number 2, this would make most mom’s feel like you are genuinely interested in seeing our kiddos do better and be better.
- “I’m here if you need to talk.” Dealing with school administration to therapists, tailored meals, and sensory sensitivity can be hard on our shoulders from time to time. And sometimes, parents just need to vent and it’s helpful to have a friend with whom to share their feelings. I find this will help guide the conversation into a healthy dialogue where a mama bear can talk about
A child’s diagnosis of ASD is a deeply personal issue because it’s unclear where Autism comes from. My advice would be to listen with your heart. And I want to thank you, in advance, for your acceptance and advocacy.