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Top things NOT to say to a parent of a child with severe Autism:

People, please think about what you're saying before you comment on our lives - You can't possibly know what it is like to be the parent of a severely autistic child.  Think before you ask questions or make comments such as these:

"God must think you are a very special person to send you this special child"

Alot of us don't believe in God anymore, and those of us who still do can sometimes harbour a resentment towards Him for burdening us with this heartache.  Don't mention God unless you're absolutely sure that the person you are talking to shares your feelings.  (Also, don't send me that damn cheezy poem - "A Trip To Holland".  You know the one.....about how wonderful it is to be 'surprised' with one of these 'special' children.)

"You're such a strong person to be able to deal with this."

Sure, we all look strong in public.  Try being around at 4 a.m. after 5 hours of straight tantrumming or self-injurious behavior; then tell me I'm strong.

"You should try to relax and get out more."

Okay!!!!  Come on over and babysit!!!

"You really are blessed you know, some women can't have babies at all".

Bzzzz!!!!  Hello!??  Do you think we would have chosen this had we known???!!!?

"What a beautiful child!  What is his/her special talent?"

Thank you Hollywood for yet another myth about autism.  You've been watching 'Rainman' too much.  Savants are rare, in fact, some of our children are profoundly retarded.

"Oh, your child doesn't talk?  Sometimes I wish mine would just shut up."

Yes, people have actually had the nerve to say this to me!!!  This is by far the absolute worst, most insensitive thing you could possible say to a parent of an autistic child in my opinion.  Many of us would give our lives to hear our son or daughter call us Mommy just once, or be able to tell us that they love us.  Think people think!!!  Would you tell a man with no legs that he's lucky because he'll never have to suffer from athlete's foot???  Hello!!!

"What are you going to do when he/she gets stronger?"  (If the child is violent).

Hey people, you don't think we don't lay awake at night thinking about this?  (or what's going to happen to our child when we die, etc.?)  I spend a good deal of energy throughout the day trying to push thoughts like this out of my mind.  Unless you want to see a grown woman cry;  please don't ask this.

"I knew someone  who had an autistic child and he/she was cured"

Someone has been feeding you a line of crap;  if they were cured, they were never autistic in the first place.  You must be thinking of a totally different disability my friend.

"Well, all kids do that."

Nothing is more frustrating than hearing this, when you are trying to explain the behaviors of your child.

Don't get me wrong; we all love our children very very much, but it's comments and questions such as these that can make our lives just a little more miserable.  Please think. Sincerely, April Wells, Ontario, Canada

Disclaimer:  My opinions here do not necessarily represent the opinions of all parents of autistics.

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Copyright © 1998
April Wells, Mother of an autistic child