What is wrong with a gifted child who has numerous passions? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 01-28-2012, 07:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Is there anyone else out there who has had people come up and ask if your child has been diagnosed with something because they are very passionate about a variety of hobbies?  I am getting quite tired of it.  I have a HG child who has a myriad of hobbies that he is very passionate about - he knows quite a bit about all of his hobbies and enjoys spending time with others sharing about them....I guess our problem is that these are not typical "kid" hobbies - he is HUGE into rock collecting, Coin collecting, Birding, amongst a slew of other things.  He has always been very social, has never fit into any category of autism/aspergers - he is just very smart and wants to learn about things to the nth degree....and people seem to think there is something wrong with him because of it.

 

 I had a lady today at a local birding festival come up to me...my son has been an avid birder for a year now and has spent a LOT of time reading and exploring about birds - he just loves birding....so he is able to share a ton of information, identify birds, you name it...so she comes out and asks me if my son has Aspergers because he knows so much about birds - HUH?  Then a few weeks ago, I had a fellow homeschooling mom come up and talk with me and ask, "so, what is his diagnosis"?  WHAT?  She said, he knows so much about trains and is able to share so much detailed information about trains, I was wondering if he was on the spectrum. So what, if a child is super duper bright, is homeschooled and has a ton of interests/hobbies that he is passionate about, he is automatically on the spectrum???  He has no problem talking with others, he has formed several friendships but all with children at least 3 years older than  him - he said he gets annoyed sometimes with kids his age because they don't like a lot of the things he is into.  But he forms close bonds with his friends, carries on a great relationship with them - he can be socially awkward when he is around kids his age but put him in a group of kids 2-3 years older and he fits in just like a pea in a pod.  We got tired of people asking what was "up" with him so we actually went to a specialist who told us he is no where near the spectrum and that he is just a wicked smart kid who is quirky because he sees things differently than most kids his age and people don't know how to handle that other than with thinking there is something wrong with him.

 

Was just curious if there were others out there dealing with the same thing - I am getting quite annoyed with replying - no, my child has no "diagnosis", he is just extremely smart.

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#2 of 24 Old 01-28-2012, 08:36 PM
 
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My youngest dd (newly 9) has numerous passions and many higher-level skills, but she's very sensitive, really almost over-sensitive, about being "out there" in public with them. She's not particularly introverted -- she's my one kid whom I'd call an extrovert. But she has this over-developed sense of empathy such that she does not want to make other people uncomfortable or taken aback by her knowledge and abilities. She has an almost uncanny ability to understand people's expectations and to behave so that she doesn't upset them, unless she sees a particular need to do so. In practice that means that she typically doesn't voluntarily share information or her skills unless she's specifically asked. 

 

Since your ds has a different social style, I'd suggest you just thicken your skin a bit. Info about ASD is very pervasive in popular and educational media over the past 5-10 years, so it's not surprising that people are over-generalizing based on little snippets of knowledge. Just laugh, shrug and say something like "Oh, no, that's just his personality. A regular little professor, he is!"

 

You didn't say how old he is. If he's younger than 7 or 8, you may find that as he becomes a little more socially mature he'll temper his verbal enthusiasm and information-sharing. Social roles are complex things, and as he becomes cognizant of raised eyebrows when he steps outside expected roles and behaviours, he may become a little more guarded in how and when he shares his passions. I don't think you should do anything to change him -- he sounds wonderful! But you will probably find that his enthusiasms naturally change in the way they're expressed as he matures.

 

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#3 of 24 Old 01-29-2012, 07:07 AM
 
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My dd just tested as HG and she is renowned in our social group for her passions, so I don't think your son sounds unusual at all. I wish you lived near us because she'd love to go birding with your son!  She carries around the Audubon book of birds and has binoc's to make sure she spots them in our urban area.  (She found a red-tailed hawk!) She plans to own a bird rescue organization when she's older (among other things).  She also loves and knows tons about horses and is a fanatical artist.  I think other people think she's amusing and peculiar, but no one's asked if she's on the spectrum!  I would be annoyed, too.  Not because there's anything wrong with that, but because it's none of their business!  Geez!

 

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#4 of 24 Old 01-29-2012, 11:38 AM
 
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Your child is unusual. People are curious.  They say block-headed things because they don't think. They're naming the only thing they know that makes kids that focused and passionate.   

 

Because he is different, you are going to have to deal with questions. You can be annoyed about it or amused.  I'd be amused because I'm very lucky to have a couple of gifted kids. (One who is actually ASD and gifted, the other who is NT and gifted.)  I would just laugh and say "No. We had him screened. He's just crazy genius smart.") 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#5 of 24 Old 01-29-2012, 12:08 PM
 
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He sounds like an amazing kid! 
 

Quote:

Info about ASD is very pervasive in popular and educational media over the past 5-10 years, so it's not surprising that people are over-generalizing based on little snippets of knowledge. Just laugh, shrug and say something like "Oh, no, that's just his personality. A regular little professor, he is!"



I agree completely with this.  Develop a little nonchalant script to say back to folks.  

 

And some people just say dumb things.  These are probably the same people who said to me "wow you're huge, are you carrying twins?" or who would ask if you're pregnant when you're not.  The foot in mouth types who are indeed curious.  

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#6 of 24 Old 01-29-2012, 01:51 PM
 
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A child psychiatrist who saw us for about two hours (with our son for about one hour) after DS had just turned four, was sure she was seeing a child on the spectrum, and one of the reasons was the way he went on about his current passionate interest (I think it was planets), in a somewhat monotonous voice (because he was embarrassed and insecure and that happens to be how he shows it), with some verbatim quotes from his favourite science videos and of course with a depth and knowledge completely unusual for a four-year-old (I could see her make those little mental notes...). In the formal evaluation which followed, he scored nowhere near the cutoffs. So it is not just random dumb people who overgeneralize some half-understood information this happens to! Interestingly, a counsellor we saw for a period of several weeks could then describe to us how the way his passions showed differed from the way they showed in the confirmed aspies she saw (ability to shift etc.), but it appears that "gifted hyperfocus" (for lack of a better word can look, on the surface, very much like an ASD trait. They may share more traits than just the superficial appearance. I know I get very obsessive about my interests, right down to an incredible level of detail, then move on after days, weeks or years, in ways that I have read aspies describe their obsessions, though I am not on the spectrum either.

So I wouldn't say it is a dumb thing to say, because people realize they are seeing something unusual, which could be an aspie trait - just a very rude thing. If that makes you feel better at all.

I agree that the quickest way you can nip it in the bud is to have an aswer down pat like "oh no, that is just his personality", and with someone who is genuinely concerned (there might be!) you might share that you've seen a specialist and he's nowhere near the spectrum. And yes, develop a thicker skin.


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#7 of 24 Old 01-29-2012, 04:24 PM
 
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Ouch!  What's wrong with having autism?  greensad.gif


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#8 of 24 Old 01-29-2012, 05:07 PM
 
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Ouch!  What's wrong with having autism?

 

 

this has nothing to do with having autism

 

who would wish a child to have something (what ever it may be!)  that they do not, when nothing is "wrong" with them?

is the parent (OP) to be "flattered" by that comment? I think not

 

 

 

 

 

as stated - many people make comments (and think nothing of what is coming out of their mouth) and many come off as offensive 

 

 

 

 

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I am getting quite annoyed with replying - no, my child has no "diagnosis"

not every child has or needs to have a diagnosis but some in society can simply not related without known a "label"

 

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#9 of 24 Old 01-29-2012, 06:00 PM
 
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Really being focused and excited about things is great!  I don't even think it should be a problem with those who do fit an ASD label.  I'd go with the flippant answers suggested above, or just turn around comments positively  (I have a gifted child on the spectrum and a "just gifted" child, I've practiced it a lot). Like, "He has such enthusiasm!" or "It's great to have a kid with intellectual curiousity".  I used to get weird comments about my gifted daughter because she liked arranging her toys.  She also played lots of imaginative games with her toys, but she liked arranging, too. (Oddly, my ASD kid never lined up toys, I wish he would, his room is a mess!).  I used to just say "It's great she's organized, because I'm not!".  Now that I have a ten year old who enjoys helping clean the house, I'm laughing!


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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post

A child psychiatrist who saw us for about two hours (with our son for about one hour) after DS had just turned four, was sure she was seeing a child on the spectrum, and one of the reasons was the way he went on about his current passionate interest (I think it was planets), in a somewhat monotonous voice (because he was embarrassed and insecure and that happens to be how he shows it), with some verbatim quotes from his favourite science videos and of course with a depth and knowledge completely unusual for a four-year-old (I could see her make those little mental notes...). In the formal evaluation which followed, he scored nowhere near the cutoffs. 

That was roughly our experience as well. 

 

We're often asked if our child has Asperger's. Someone even sent me an article about the associations between giftedness and Asperger's syndrome. DS has some traits that look a heck of a lot like he's on the spectrum, but other things really put him outside of it. We do know some people with kids on the spectrum who've used natural methods - diet, etc. - to help their children, and I do actually find there's usefulness in those methods for us, too, fwiw.

 

Before we moved, we got a lot of eye-rolling type of stuff. I remember DD at an early 3 being in a store and talking on and on about something that reminded her of another word and talking herself through word associations. (A typical DD monologue about language: "pedestrian means someone walking. A pedicure is what Grandma got to make her feet pretty. A pedal is what you put your foot on when you ride a bike. Pedi must mean foot.") She loves those kinds of associations, and a couple of people just said, "she's weird" to me. We now live in one of the most highly-educated cities in the US (love it here!), and more adults are inclined to engage her. Someone here would say something like, "...and we're called bipeds because we walk on two feet." It's much more...enjoyable.
 

 


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Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

 

 

 

 

this has nothing to do with having autism

 

who would wish a child to have something (what ever it may be!)  that they do not, when nothing is "wrong" with them?

is the parent (OP) to be "flattered" by that comment? I think not

 

 

No,  I wouldn't take it as flattery. However,  asking if a child has Aspergers or high functioning autism is not an insult, either. OP is reacting as if the very possibility that her child has HFA is a mortal insult or a criticism of her child. It's not. Asperger's/HFA is more of a difference than a disability, and it's one that frequently goes hand in hand with giftedness. I have a kid with HFA who is gifted. There's nothing wrong with him. I have an uncle who has Asperger's. There's nothing wrong with him.

 

If you think that it's an insult to describe someone as having Asperger's/HFA, you should probably check your assumptions about what that means because you don't understand and you're reacting from misinformation. 

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#12 of 24 Old 01-31-2012, 05:31 PM
 
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I think this thread is in dangerous territory.  The overlaps between features of giftedness, ADHD and HFAs are large.  That's not a matter under dispute in the current literature.  Bright But Not Broken is a very interesting read on this topic.

 

OP, I would suggest "lightening up" when people bring it up.  They're likely well meaning, and are commenting on your child's outlier behaviours.  We encounter this and I tend to reply with something like "yeah, he's quirky and delightful" because it's not really anyone's business what DS's diagnosis might or might not be (in the spirit of it's his business, not mine, to share).


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#13 of 24 Old 01-31-2012, 05:35 PM
 
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aspergers is considered a disability and covered under IDEA, to dismiss the OP's feeling non-supportive


 

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#14 of 24 Old 01-31-2012, 06:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by RiverTam View Post

 

No,  I wouldn't take it as flattery. However,  asking if a child has Aspergers or high functioning autism is not an insult, either.

 

Neither is asking someone how far along in pregnancy they are....unless of course they are not pregnant.  Thinking someone is pregnant is not an insult, and nothing is wrong with people who are. However, asking someone who is not pregnant how far along they are can imply something that is, well, less than "flattering".   

 

OP is reacting as if the very possibility that her child has HFA is a mortal insult or a criticism of her child.

 

I don't see this.  I see a lot of frustration with her constantly getting asked this question.  I can imagine this would be frustrating. For example:  My daughter, has little to no hair.  If everyday someone asked me "So, what stage of cancer is she in?".  I might say something like "Why does everyone think that something is wrong with her just because she has short hair?" So on...

This doesn't mean...something is wrong with THEM.  The perfect children who have cancer.  

 

 

FOR THE OP:   I would like to suggest a different train of thought....   I used the analogy of being pregnant above.  As I understand it, the people who are asking the question are not asking because they see signs of social issues or something like that.  It is motivated because of the association that they have with ASD and Gifted.  They are asking about ASD because what they SEE is Gifted.   Think of it as someone asking if you are pregnant because you are GLOWING.  If you can see it in this way, you will see that they are actually being very complementary.

 

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#15 of 24 Old 01-31-2012, 07:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by RiverTam View Post

 

No,  I wouldn't take it as flattery. However,  asking if a child has Aspergers or high functioning autism is not an insult, either.

 

Neither is asking someone how far along in pregnancy they are....unless of course they are not pregnant.  Thinking someone is pregnant is not an insult, and nothing is wrong with people who are. However, asking someone who is not pregnant how far along they are can imply something that is, well, less than "flattering".   

 

OP is reacting as if the very possibility that her child has HFA is a mortal insult or a criticism of her child.

 

I don't see this.  I see a lot of frustration with her constantly getting asked this question.  I can imagine this would be frustrating. For example:  My daughter, has little to no hair.  If everyday someone asked me "So, what stage of cancer is she in?".  I might say something like "Why does everyone think that something is wrong with her just because she has short hair?" So on...

This doesn't mean...something is wrong with THEM.  The perfect children who have cancer.  

 

 

FOR THE OP:   I would like to suggest a different train of thought....   I used the analogy of being pregnant above.  As I understand it, the people who are asking the question are not asking because they see signs of social issues or something like that.  It is motivated because of the association that they have with ASD and Gifted.  They are asking about ASD because what they SEE is Gifted.   Think of it as someone asking if you are pregnant because you are GLOWING.  If you can see it in this way, you will see that they are actually being very complementary.

 

 

 

I totally agree!

 

to "SOME" people (those who maybe asking the OP) often view a child in a certain light IF they feel they know something is "an issue" and have preconceived notions (be it un-founded) and can take a negative view of a child- when as with this child, there isn't anything - having to defend against this is unfortunate and yes, it can cause distress as the OP has stated 

 

Quote:
.and people seem to think there is something wrong with him because of it.

 

- how about understand what this feels like to the person that is being asked? this is NOT an anti-autism issue 


 

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#16 of 24 Old 01-31-2012, 08:01 PM
 
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This is a fascinating thread to me because I can totally relate to the OP -- except that it's been ME wondering if my gifted kids are also on the spectrum -- and my dad, and myself, and my neighbor, blah, blah, blah.  I think there's been so much exposure to ASD lately, which is a good thing for those who truly need some help, but it's almost as if we've *forgotten* what plain old gifted looks like!  (I can't even tell you how many friends I now have IRL with kids who have been diagnosed on the spectrum.  It's partially being part of the homeschooling community, where a lot of ASD kids end up, but not completely.)

 

I watched that episode from the first season of "Parenthood" a couple weeks ago, where the five-year-old girl's parents get called in to a teacher conference, and they wonder if she might have Asperger's like her cousin -- and then it turns out she's gifted.  That was such an eye-opener to me, like, oh yeah, gifted kids are quirky, too!  I can stop trying to diagnose my kid, since he's not having any social or learning issues, and just get on with enjoying who he is!  Yes, he does some have things in common with the kids we know with ASD, but whatever, they can relate!  The label is only really useful if you're struggling, worried, or seeking some specific help, otherwise, kids are all unique individuals who need to be appreciated and loved for being themselves.  :)

 

Just my thoughts.

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#17 of 24 Old 01-31-2012, 08:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you to everyone for the comments and I greatly appreciate it.  I guess my underlying frustration is just that I am tired of various comments about my 9 year old and it has been going on for many years.  There is nothing medically wrong with him.....he is a sweet, quirky kid who can talk your ear off on just about everything and I get really annoyed with why people want to ask if there is something wrong/up with him just because he does not fit into the box. The world is an amazing place and it is so because of people of all different personalities and traits - when a child is "unsual" it is like some people in society want to put them in a category and figure out what is up instead of just enjoying what they have to offer the world.  I also believe it is because there has been SO much out in the past few years about Aspergers and the Spectrum that many people make generalizations when they don't have a clue.

 

 I am sorry to the poster who wrote, " OP is reacting as if the very possibility that her child has HFA is a mortal insult or a criticism of her child. It's not."  That is not at all what I was writing about and I am very sorry that that is how you read it. I I am just tired of strangers coming up to me asking me if there is something going on with my child.  This is not a negative post on children with various diagnosis just a mom who is tired of her son being treated differently because he walks to the beat of his own drum...something I wish more kids/people in this world did.

 

Thank you to the ones who did not read anything nasty or negative about my post and instead wrote some very helpful comments.  I do need to toughen up - you would think after 6-7 years of comments about how my child is "different', I would have a thicker skin but I guess I need to work on that. I think all moms need support from others and I appreciate many of you taking the time to respond.

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Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

 

 

 

 

 

- how about understand what this feels like to the person that is being asked? this is NOT an anti-autism issue 



I think many of us here know exactly what it feels like to be asked.

 

OP, I view it all as a range of being neurodivergent.   Autism is one cluster of ways of being neurodivergent, and it's a much, much broader spectrum than is generally understood.  Look at what they're field testing for the next version of the DSM, trying to gain greater diagnostic clarity.   I think giftedness is another way of being neurodivergent, with some overlaps in manifestation with HFAs.  It's complicated, overlapping and diverse.  I look at it as sometimes DS is clearly neurodivergent, and people (typically school types) respond to that thinking HFA.  As he's gotten older I get the comments less frequently. 


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#19 of 24 Old 02-01-2012, 04:42 AM
 
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many people make generalizations when they don't have a clue.

 

MANY insert their foot very fast!

 

 

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#20 of 24 Old 02-01-2012, 07:52 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

 

 

I totally agree!

 

to "SOME" people (those who maybe asking the OP) often view a child in a certain light IF they feel they know something is "an issue" and have preconceived notions (be it un-founded) and can take a negative view of a child- when as with this child, there isn't anything - having to defend against this is unfortunate and yes, it can cause distress as the OP has stated 

 

 

- how about understand what this feels like to the person that is being asked? this is NOT an anti-autism issue 



 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom2010 View Post

Originally Posted by RiverTam View Post

 

No,  I wouldn't take it as flattery. However,  asking if a child has Aspergers or high functioning autism is not an insult, either.

 

Neither is asking someone how far along in pregnancy they are....unless of course they are not pregnant.  Thinking someone is pregnant is not an insult, and nothing is wrong with people who are. However, asking someone who is not pregnant how far along they are can imply something that is, well, less than "flattering".   

 



This analogy sort of proves my point. If someone asks if you're pregnant and you're not, the assumption is that they think you're fat. And there's a huge amount of hatred for "being fat" in our culture. It's an insulting question because the implication is if you're not pregnant, you're a fat slob. 

 

Both questions make the person asked uncomfortable because our culture isn't comfortable with neurodiversity and it's not comfortable with body diversity.  The assumptions that form the basis for taking the question as "not flattering" are some of the uglier parts of our culture.

 

And OP, don't feel bad. I didn't take your comment as anything less than being irritated by rude questions. (See my previous comment that people are block-headed.) People shouldn't ask about other people's weight, health, mental health status, neurological status, pregnancy. It's just rude to ask these things. People don't need to know either of my kids' labels for most purposes.  If I want you to know, I'll tell you. 

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#21 of 24 Old 02-01-2012, 08:32 AM
 
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(See my previous comment that people are block-headed.) 

 

 

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If you think that it's an insult to describe someone as having Asperger's/HFA, you should probably check your assumptions about what that means because you don't understand and you're reacting from misinformation. 

 

 

what exactly is ment by these posts?

 

if you "react" you are a misinformed and block headed?

 

 

 

 


 

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#22 of 24 Old 02-01-2012, 02:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by RiverTam View Post


 

This analogy sort of proves my point. If someone asks if you're pregnant and you're not, the assumption is that they think you're fat.

 

Now you can see the OP's confusion and frustration.  It like she's saying, I'm not showing any signs of pregnancy, I haven't gained any weight, I'm not throwing up,...so I don't understand why they are asking me and I am very frustrated. And we are saying, they are asking because you are glowing.   Then you are saying.... why are you calling pregnant people fat slobs. 

 

 

And there's a huge amount of hatred for "being fat" in our culture. It's an insulting question because the implication is if you're not pregnant, you're a fat slob. 

 

See, this is what I mean.  YOU are not only making the "assumption" that I must think that someone is calling me a fat slob, you are also assuming I must have a "hatred" towards fat slobs, (because after all, that's how people in our "culture" perceive things) and that I must find being asked if I am pregnant insulting because I think pregnant people are all fat slobs.    Not what I said, not at all.  Here I am just trying to figure out why everyone thinks I'm pregnant. 

 

Being pregnant does not equal being overweight.  Being overweight does not equal being pregnant.  Can people who are pregnant also be overweight, sure.  Are they sometimes related?  Yes.  But one is not an indicator of the other.   And it would take a very misinformed person indeed to think that someone who is overweight is a slob and to hate them for it.

 

To assume that one always comes with the other is incorrect. 

To express frustration that people keep doing this, and wonder why, is understandable.

To assume the the person who is frustrated, is agreeing with the incorrect correlation, and assuming something unrealistic about it out of hatred and ignorance..... 

 

I can't imagine what it must have felt like to read your response from her perspective. 

 

 

All analogy's aside:  I am just trying to say, see it from her point of view.  She is not implying what you are seeing.  And has said so.  AND even apologized for maybe even coming across that way.

 


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#23 of 24 Old 04-10-2012, 04:36 PM
 
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As annoying as it is, you might also consider that the comment has more to do with the commenter than you or your child. Maybe s/he's looking for someone with whom s/he can share experiences regarding atypical children. Perhaps you can turn it around to let that person talk about him or herself?

 

"Do you have experience with asbergers/autism?" might open up an interesting dialogue.

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#24 of 24 Old 04-13-2012, 05:40 PM
 
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Agree with expectingjoy.

 

I might ask some version of, "Oh, why do you ask?" Gentle as pie, out of compassionate curiosity, if you can muster it. I don't do this much, but when I have it really helps distinguish between someone with idle curiosity and someone wondering if you might have a piece of thinking about [whatever the highly personal topic is] that she needs.

 

And if it's idle curiosity, you can still follow up with, "Nope! He just loves birds!" or whatever variant you like :)

 

Heather

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