|A few years back...|
But I also realize that what I have learned in a month and a half is still very little. I've talked to our pediatrician and psychologist and therapists and social workers. I've spent hours every week sitting in offices watching Mae be tested and asking questions. I sneak out the book of the day and read whenever my children are quiet enough to steal a few moments away from the crazy loud playfulness that is my life. And at night I try to find a few moments when everything I'm supposed to have done is complete to sit and read some more.
What I didn't know before we began this journey, was how many autism experts there are in the world.
If you don't have a child with autism, or aren't on the spectrum yourself, you might not realize that half of the population of the US appears to be an expert on the subject.
Once you get a diagnosis the floodgates open.
"There's nothing wrong with her." You'll hear. "She's just being a kid." There will be eye rolling and snorting. "I think that autism is extremely over diagnosed." "My kid probably had it. But we never did anything and he's fine now."
And if you're like me your tongue might get a little sore from all the biting of it that you've been doing. And then you'll start typing (because let's face it, that's what I do too!).
That sort of comment shows a real ignorance of the Church and of Catholicism. And the sort of comments I've been hearing often reveal a total ignorance of autism. Which brings me to the point of this post.
Before offering unsolicited advice to a parent of a child with autism, it's helpful to ask oneself what they actually know. Where have you learned what you know? Was it a five minute segment on the news? Was it a half page article in a magazine? Was it from hearing about so-and-so's-cousins-son who "was really just a brat" they were "making excuses for"?
I appreciate most well meaning advice, even if it ends up being something that we don't use. After all, I'm learning, and when I hear about something new I start researching. I would love to hear how you're sister's cousin's uncle's daughter did really well on a gluten free diet. It gives me hope. And I really, really appreciate all the supportive and loving comments we've received.
But if the first thing that comes to mind is saying that you think kids with autism are spoiled and that nothing's wrong with that kid that a few good hard swats to the butt wouldn't cure, than stop. Because you're wrong.
To be continued in part 2 (since I apparently have a lot to say on this subject...)