Ouch. Double ouch. :((
This is what someone texted to me regarding a family friend's son who was recently dx with autism (he's on the severe end of the spectrum). She knows my son has also just been dx with autism, I know she wasn't talking about MY son, but even if my son isn't as "severe," he is autistic. (We don't know where my son is on the spectrum right now - he's 2.5 years old - but let's just say he has a ton of sensory issues and has a problem regulating himself so we are dealing with a lot of behavior issues, he is also speech delayed).
The girl that wrote that is actually a very nice person, and I wanted to cut her some slack since her dad just died, but I didn't respond to her text. I just didn't know what to say. I was hurt and felt defensive and didn't want to say something rude so I didn't say anything.
What hurts is I am sure people who spend time around my son prob think to themselves "better her than me", you know? Makes me so sad because he is very smart, very fun, and very sweet and loving. He is just extremely hyperactive, speaks a lot of gibberish, and has behaviors that do probably look "weird" to those who don't understand autism. But I love him with all of my heart, and wish people knew how much joy he really brings to us.
How would you have responded? Have any of you SN mamas had any comments like this before?
Mommy to beauties DS1 (7), DS2 (4, autism), & DS3 (2)
and many angel babies
"I can't imagine having a kid like that"... Perhaps it is an accurate statement. She can't imagine because she hasn't experienced it and she doesn't understand that even amid challenge there is joy and there is love. Probably before you had kids when you just imagined what it might be like you didn't imagine a lot of what your life is like with your child. That's true for all parents, but especially true when for parents of kids who ended up very different than the norm.
To "better you than me" a good response is "exactly, I can't imagine if he wasn't my kid, we are very lucky." Let them sort that out.
And, to questions or statements you are just stunned by a good "why do you say that?" or "why do you ask that?" gives someone a moment to pause and perhaps realize they are being rude. It won't always work but it may sometimes.
While sometimes people are just mean, more often I think they are just thoughtless.
I get this all the time. :( Ds,10 is on the spectrum,and can be very challenging.But he is very loving,sweet,smart,silly,and caring.I can't imagine not having a child like him!My friend has a very hard time with him,so I no longer leave him in her care unless it is an emergency.I get stared at in stores,I've even had places ask us to leave(he was screaming because he was tired and overwelmed trick or treating at the mall,we are NOT doing that next year,and I was in Hot Topic with dd,13.We were just waiting to pay,I was trying to calm him down so we could pay and get the hell out of the mall.The guy was very nice about it,but it's still hard being asked to leave.I quickly paid for dd's items and left.If the items were for me,I would've put them on the counter and left,but that wouldn't have been fair to do to dd.).I've even had issues with the local food pantry.It's a looooong wait,and very crowded.They won't give him a disabled ticket,so we have to wait.I bring small quiet toys for him,and paper and pens,but I still get told he is too loud.Never mind that everyone else is talking so loud I can barely hear the numbers being called.The other people waiting make rude comments like that,plus say things like"if he was mine I'd beat it out of him" or "MY child would never behave like that".Well thankfully he is not your child!!I once had an elderly woman threaten to hit him!He was playing with his "Thomas blankies",old receiving blankets,very thin and small,with Thomas the train on them.Before I could stop him he threw one up in the air(I put them away immediatly after that).It came close to the woman,but did not touch her at all,and she flipped out and started yelling at him,threatened to hit him,then went to the people who run the pantry and told them he hit her!I called the pantry later on that day,to talk about what happened and ask how to get him a disabled ticket so we could go at 11 and get out within an hour,instead of 3 or more.I was told he was not disabled,he just had a behaviour problem and that he should not go around hitting elderly women.She wouldn't listen to me,she said the elderly woman would never lie.I ended up crying and hanging up on her,and we didn't go back for a long time,even though we needed the help.She still gives me dirty looks when I go,especially if I have ds.I've also been told he shouldn't be out in public,he should be in an institution,by some woman on her cell phone in Target because he was crying and interupting her conversation.Oh did I go off on her.I was having a hard day as it was,and you just don't mess with the mama of a special needs child like that.I was shaking for hours.
I've learned to develop a thick skin,at least in public and with clueless friends and relatives now.I ignore comments like this now.I will not stand for them putting ds down though or being rude to him.
Sounds like she's trying to be sympathetic to the other mom and just kind of stuck her foot in her mouth. A lot of people are especially likely to suffer from foot-in-mouth syndrome when communicating in writing... especially text messaging!
I can understand your reaction to it though.
I had a Montessori directoress with over 40 years experience say similar things to me. She was trying to be very sympathetic, but it came off as pity for having a challenging child. It really drove me nuts. I just kept a positive attitude. I'm lucky to have the kid I have. He's awesome. I make no bones about his challenges, but I also take the time to brag on his strengths. The way I respond to those types of comments is to say "Every kid is challenging and every kid is a gift. Parenting isn't easy for anyone." If they don't have kids, I might add "You'll see."
I mean this, too. Currently it's my completely NT, gifted, sweet, socially adept 6 year old that is the most challenging to parent. He's almost 7 and is moving back and forth between being clingy and demanding more independence. He's also sort of a daredevil and does things that could result in injury if he's not carefully supervised. It's a phase, but it's driving me a little crazy. My older kid has either an ASD or MERLD and, right now, he's responsible and happy and easy to parent.
No one knows how their kids are going to turn out. No one knows what parenting them is going to bring. Being a parent opens your heart up to being broken. It's not for the weak.
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