I shared this meme on Facebook today and everyone had an opinion. Some people agreed with me and some did not. Some parents shared that they do feel sorry that their child has autism. Others felt that people say they are sorry because they do not know what else to say. This is what I like about our Sailing Autistic Seas community. We respect all view points. You do not always have to agree with me, as long as you are respectful.
Some of you may not know the back story on this but EVERY TIME I run into Angel’s former day care provider she acts as if he is terminally ill because he is on the autism spectrum. It began when I first told her about his diagnosis and she took my hands in hers and told me how sorry she was.
They say we have to teach people how to treat us, so this is my attempt. Here are the four things you can say when a parent tells you that their child is on the autism spectrum:
1. “When was he diagnosed?”
This is a great way to start a conversation with a parent. Every autism parent has a “my child was diagnosed…” story. When you ask this question, it takes away that urge to blurt out how sorry you are because you just don’t know what else to say.
2. “What is autism?”
Asking me this question tells me that you care enough to get educated on the subject and are not going just by what you have read or seen.
3. “I know [add name here] who has it also.”
Sharing that you know someone who is on the autism spectrum is okay. It shows that you can relate to me or at least you are trying. I am not offended by this at all.
Yes, you read correctly. You can say nothing. It is okay. You do not have to have a response. We can keep the conversation moving in another direction if needed.
What would you like to hear when you tell someone that your child is on the autism spectrum? Please add your ideas to my list. I look forward to hearing from you.