As someone who's been blogging since before her children were even conceived, I like to think I've developed a pretty good attitude about rude or trollish comments, although it's definitely taken some time and a lot of trial-and-error and embarrassing overreactions.
I generally just shrug and ignore -- I rarely even feel much urge to delete them anymore -- because obviously this person doesn't know me and their opinion about me is just not relevant or even valid, and it's so rarely worth responding or engaging with someone like that in a misguided attempt to "prove" that they're wrong about you.
But sometimes ... oh, they still manage to get under my skin. Oh, but they do.
I'm sure the fact that this week has been a particularly terrible one for my family has left me feeling extra raw and sensitive, but a few days ago I was the recipient of a nice little drive-by assholing. Someone had spent a few cursory moments at my blog, reading all of one post, probably, before launching into nasty little diatribe about me and my parenting.
Namely, that my son doesn't have any special needs, that there's nothing "wrong" with him other than the fact that I'm a terrible mother who expects 100 percent perfection and lets him watch TV all the time instead of playing outside, and I am using made-up labels to cover my shortcomings, or possibly sick with Munchausen by Proxy or exploiting him for Preshus Internet Attenshun, or ... I don't know. I only read about half of it before smacking it away with the Delete key.
It was definitely from the Denis Leary school of thought on the Spectrum and sensory disorders: Bad parents shopping for a designer diagnosis that makes it Not Their Fault.
Nothing new -- how many times have parents of speech-delayed children gotten the "Why don't you try READING to him, or something?" suggestion? Or had it implied that we don't TALK or INTERACT with our poor, neglected offspring enough and that's why they're falling behind? Or heard one of the seven trillion variations on "in MY day" anecdotes that ever-so-helpfully tell you that you're overreacting about something that used to just get "ignored" until the kid hopefully outgrew it?
I've heard them all. Yeah, look at me! It's all an act! Totally conned my way through a good half-dozen evals and assessments and IEP meetings in order to score my kid a free ride in the district's special ed preschool! They TOTALLY give those out like CANDY, you know. EASY. The non-profit where he gets occupational therapy LOVES wasting its time on kids who don't actually need their help! And I TOTALLY shelled out thousands of dollars on private school tuition because once or twice a year someone clicks on my PayPal donate button! YOU GOT ME, ANONYMOUS INTERNET PEOPLE! It's like you're hate-mailing my soul!
I don't know why I let this particular rerun needle me so much. Noah's needs ARE actually quite subtle, as are the needs of about 90 percent of his classmates. He's never been a child you would look at and be like, "Uh-oh." He struggled with his speech but now he never shuts up. He's worked out his own little accommodations for his various processing challenges that I would never expect someone who isn't us or his teachers or therapists to notice them. We've worked out a lot of other small accommodations that make a big difference at home, at the store, and at school.
Sometimes, yeah -- I probably spend too much time wondering what's a genuine struggle that's tied to an underlying problem that needs a solution ... and what's just typical bratty 5-year-old behavior that needs a time-out. It's not always the easiest distinction for us, or for a lot of parents dealing with the "invisible disabilities" of a high-functioning kid who sees and responds to the world differently, in a way that doesn't fit into the cookie-cutter mold our current educational system wants to mash him or her into.
But hey. I agree with that person on one very important point: No, there most certainly ISN'T anything "wrong" with my son. Thanks for noticing!
See also When Clueless People Attack Part I.
Image via Amy Storch