7 Things Parents of Special Needs Children Don't Need to Hear

mom holding child's handMy eldest, who turned 10 this weekend, is on the autistic spectrum. He was diagnosed at age 2, which means that we've run the gamut of therapies and special evaluations. We've done the special preschools and dealt with the issues that come along with it as best as we can. It's not always easy, this autism stuff, but there are plenty of things that make it worse.

Namely, unsolicited advice and opinions. Much as I love to hear differing opinions and ideas, there are times and places when I'd rather you shut your mouth and move along. Especially when it comes to my son, who is perfect just the way he is.

Here's a handy reference list of things not to say to parents of special needs kids:

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1. "I would NEVER allow my child to eat from the white-stuff-only food group. You should serve everyone ONE meal and let him go hungry. He'll learn to eat." I'm not denying it -- my kid is a terrible eater. If there was some award for bad eaters, trust me, we'd have won it YEARS ago. However, I've tried the whole, "If you don't eat this, you're going to be hungry," and guess what? He went hungry. Then? He got hysterical. Then I got hysterical. Not worth it.

2. "Why is your kid lining things up and counting them? I mean, Hot Wheels cars in rows don't look right on a banister, you know?" Gee. Thanks. And I suppose your habit of leaving stacks of mail or pop cans around is just "decorating." It soothes the kid. And if you happen to fall over a couple of Hot Wheels, well, don't say you didn't see it coming.

3. (Openly stares) "Why is that kid weeping in the middle of the store? He's too old to be weeping. She must be a bad mother." Bad mother notwithstanding, my kid can't control his emotions similar to the way you can't control opening your big ass mouth. I'm trying to prevent a full-fledged meltdown here, so instead of staring and calling me names, maybe you can get out of my way so I can check out and leave you to your perfect world, where kids are always well-behaved.

4. "Have you tried this new diet? I heard it worked wonders for my best friend's sister's boyfriend's girlfriend's kid." Here's the thing: I probably have. And it didn't work. Much as it may appear otherwise, I have been trying to do right by my kid for 10 years. I wish a simple diet fix would help the kid ... but it won't.

5. "Everyone knows it's because you got him vaccinated." Well, actually, did you read the article where the scientist who claimed vaccines causes autism admitted it wasn't true? That vaccines don't cause autism? Because I did. And trust me when I tell you this: my kid was born this way.

6. "Are your other kids normal?" Anyone who knows anything knows that normalcy is overrated. And fuck-you-very-much for saying that within earshot of my son, who has nothing wrong with his ears. Or, really, anything. We love him how he is.

7. "So, what's his special trick? Can he count cards?" While I'd like to be able to use my son as a party trick, he's not Rain Man. Maybe he'll learn to count cards and I can take him gambling with me. Then again, maybe not.

This concludes Aunt Becky's PSA on what not to say to special needs parents.

What would YOU like people to NOT say to you?


Image via Africa Studio/shutterstock

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